We are an “old fashioned” editorial crew: we love stories. We admire great writing; we swoon at beautifully worded sentences and lovely descriptions, and chuckle at clever metaphors--but we always choose a great story over all of that. We constantly receive great character sketches, serious mood pieces, wonderfully written scenes that in the end are just wonderful scenes or elegant reminiscences that are in fact just “a day (or month, or year) in the life of…” And we judge all of this by one simple standard--where is the story?
What’s a story? A character(or characters) that we care for (or hate) in a conflict (plot) that leads to a logical resolution that has an emotional effect on the character, and on us, the readers. For us, story trumps even superior writing. The writing quality may be less than that in the character sketches, mood pieces, scenes, or reminiscences, if the story pulls us in and makes us root for the character as he/she wrestles through a conflict.
This does not disqualify real life memoirs or reminiscences, as long as they are told as a story--a real life story. After all, everybody’s life is a story. You are the character fighting through a conflict which changed you somehow. If this didn’t happen, you wouldn’t be trying to tell us about it.
So send us a story, real or imagined. Try hard to give us good writing, but try harder to give us a good story--and we will love you for it.
In this issue: Our Featured author, Edward Ahern, shares a story of a man facing the crossroads of a passing generation with "The Cottage." Founding BWG member Courtney Annicchiarico brings us her interview with a truly remarkable young man, John Lahutsky, who overcame enormous odds and tells his story in his book, THE BOY FROM BABY HOUSE 10. Our &More authors--Jackie Davis Martin, Julia Pimblett, and Sara Etgen-Baker--bring us their stories with good characters, good challenges, and good endings. And, as always, we have Betty Wryte-Goode's tips--this time on how to avoid procrastination.
Jerome W. McFadden, co-editor
is now closed.
next issue of
list of the
Ten . . .
by Edward Ahern
1. Authoring rather than writing: submitting stories in cascades; logging rejections (80%) and acceptances; trying to get each story reprinted twice; writing about writing; critiquing other people's work; facebooking and tweeting in self ass-patting fashion; writing bios and top ten lists . . .
2. Emotional trauma/angst:
My stuff's no good anyway; almost nobody reads or pays for it; my critique group just beat the crap out of me; my delicate psyche can't stand the stress . . .
3. Sloth/ Indolence: I need a nap; there's a program (that I've already seen) coming on with gratuitous sex and violence; I could putter with fishing and shooting tackle; I should finish reading that overdue book . . .
4. Creative block: To kill him or not to kill him--that's the (unresolvable) question; this stuff is so awful I'm going to have to completely rewrite it and don't know how; I can think of five ways to tell this story and I hate all of them . . .
5.The priority of the mundane: Dog walking, closet cleaning, trash assemblage, grocery shopping, meals, sleep, bathroom visits/showers, meetings. mail . . .
6. The ponderous pace of research: Ordering books(most recently on Sumerian myth) and waiting for them to arrive and be read before typing a word; taking half-hours to settle on character names and story locations, then taking more time to change them all in mid draft; discovering that Wikipedia was wrong and the Chaldeans didn't have color television; reading descriptions by other ignorant Americans about what Iraqis and Vietnamese really think . . .
7. Location disruption: My I phone/laptop doesn't get any/good reception here; it's too noisy/quiet/distracting; I have to charge my I phone/laptop; the lighting is too bright/dim; someone will come in any minute and disturb me . . .
8. The dead space of fiction pregnancy: I haven't thought through the story yet; I need to make sure this is really good, and completely thought through; would he/she/it do that?. . .
9. Avoiding the pain of creation by rewriting: inability to write new material until the already drafted is MFA submittable; tinkering as easier than composing, rewriting helping the subconscious to dream up the path forward . . .
10. Dropping one story to write another: Gee, now I have to do all the thinking/authoring/
research again before I can write.
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