I'm pleased to announce I've been newly-named to the judge panel for flash fiction contests at a supercool international literary venue, Sweek. They run monthly contests for flash and microflash writers.
Next month's theme for interested authors (open through August 14, 2018) is "asteroids." Give it a whirl; even if you decide not to enter the contest you can use the themes as great prompts for your writing.
Wonderful news. I have two poems from my new series appearing in two literary journals this summer.
"Self-Portrait of the Author as a Silent Movie" appears on page 28 of The Meadow's annual issue, and "Self-Portrait of the Author as a Paperclip" was published on page 69 of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review (FLAR).
SUPER excited to announce my Poetry Power: An Interactive Guide for Writing, Editing, Teaching, and Reflecting on the Life Poetic. Check out its awesome cover, and many thanks to Jessica Bell and Alexis Paige, my dream team at Vine Leaves Press. Can't wait for the October 26th release!
Care for some tips about writing flash fiction? Check out my craft article that was just featured at Nunum:
Photo by: Sagar Patil, www.unsplash.com
Curious about the impact of writing notebooks in the life of authors? Want some tips on how to keep a submission notebook?
Recently, my poetry-and-photography combo art was published at Daily Haiga: an edited journal of contemporary & traditional haiga.
"What's haiga?" you wonder.
Glad you ask! See below.
I have another haiga in a forthcoming issue. Stay tuned!
"Haiga (俳画, haikai drawing) is a style of Japanese painting that incorporates the aesthetics of haikai. Haiga are typically painted by haiku poets (haijin), and often accompanied by a haiku poem. Like the poetic form it accompanied, haiga was based on simple, yet often profound, observations of the everyday world. Stephen Addiss points out that 'since they are both created with the same brush and ink, adding an image to a haiku poem was ... a natural activity.'" Source/Learn More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiga
My fiction craft article appeared at Women on Writing today. Ta-da! Hope it inspires, and enjoy the prompt at the end.
"Three Qualities of Good Short Stories (and Why You Need Them in Your Own Stories)"
By Melanie Faith
"The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story."
--John le Carré
We've probably all had that experience where we read the latest edition of our favorite literary magazine and thought, Meh. What was so great about that piece? Editorial tastes aside, there are some key elements to making good fiction that transcend the names on the masthead. Let's take a look at a few elements that make a good short story.
There's enough conflict. Readers get invested in stories that have something at stake, both for the protagonist and for the reader. As in the John le Carré quote, merely having a character in a scene doing something isn't enough to generate and sustain interest. Just as our actions or refusals to act create ripples of effects in real life (Wonder about that? Don't pay your taxes, show up at your child's recital, or buy groceries: the reactions are sure to pile up speedily), your characters live in a setting populated with other people, places, and things and whatever they do or don't do has consequences aplenty. Consequences create the potential for conflict and increase tension in a story. Conflicts and consequences are good. Characters who do something (anything) in a vacuum: boring city!
We know who to root for and who not to. Ever read a story where there were so many characters that you weren't sure who you should focus on or what was the point of all of these characters being in the scene? Good stories might have a few characters, but it's clear who the protagonist is and isn't. Same goes for the antagonist, which may be a person but doesn't have to be (in man vs. nature stories, for instance, a storm might be the antagonist). Every action/reaction, snippet of dialogue, and description must support the reader knowing who the main character is and who works against the main character. All other details (or characters) can either be edited out of the story or need to be pared back to supporting status for the protagonist's journey.
They have a clear setting--which just may prove significant to the character's quest. Just like us, your characters exist in time and space. A character typing in a coffee shop in Smalltown, USA probably has a different life and set of goals than a character in a coffee shop in LA, Tokyo, Milan, or the moon (hey, this could be science fiction, right?). Remember that storm example a few sentences ago? Some settings, such as a character outrunning a tornado in Missouri, might be significantly impact by where the action of the story happens. Other times, the action of the story might have little to do with the conflict but it's important to create a scene in which your character breathes and moves through a landscape just as we all do. Keep in mind: characters don't have to like where they live (be that their city/town or their living conditions, such as apartment/condo/house/basement/friend's couch), but good stories need a place for all of the action of the story to take place. Otherwise, characters can become mere talking heads, doing a lot of thinking that could easily alienate readers who want to be grounded in place and time.
Try this prompt!
Take a draft of a story and let's flip the script: write a new story, making your antagonist your protagonist. What is the main conflict your new protagonist must confront? Who creates obstacles for this new protagonist? What do they want? Where does your protagonist spend most of their time? Make that the setting. How does the setting either support your new protagonist or work against them?
Care to write more short stories?
Check out my May short-story class .
I'm very pleased to announce that three of my photos appeared at Nunum's blog and Instagram this week, along with this insightful description of my photos:
"Melanie Faith's photography captures the complex beauty displayed through the transitory play of light through the spaces in which we most often find ourselves alone with ourselves."
They also kindly made a mention of my book, In a Flash, and its release!
Check out more of Nunum's awesome flash fiction and art and consider submitting!
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being asked by my awesome WOW! editors (special shout-out to Ang) to participate in a directory for fiction writers by writing some fun prompts.
If you're hankering for some thematic prompts, take these for a test drive in a draft today. Feel free to share them with your writing groups, friends, and/or students as well. Enjoy! I'd love to hear updates if any of the prompts inspire new stories or new scenes in your current WIP. :)
For the full directory of more than 100 prompts: Reedsy .