Encouraging news: Short story collections seem to be making a comeback in mainstream publishing. And that’s great, because many of us like our stories, short, sweet, and punchy. If you’ve got a file or pile of them, while not dust off and polish them — and take a shot at the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards?
Stories can be up to 4,000 words and are open to a wide range of genres: romance, crime, horror, thriller, science fiction, and young adult. The deadline: October 15.
One Grand Prize winner will receive:
• $2500 in cash;
• a Writer’s Digest interview, featured in the May/June 2016 issue
• a paid trip to the popular Writer’s Digest Conference.
First Prize winners in each genre will receive $500 and prizes.
The judges are looking for:
• Engaging, emotionally rich storytelling
• Full, complex characters
• A unique, compelling voice
For examples of stories that have been selected based on qualities like these can be found in leading short-story journals like Glimmer Train and Tin House — so you might want to check them out.
Another tool to sharpen your style and technique is the old tried-and-true strategy: study the work of masterful short-story writers you admire. My reading group introduced me to William Trevor and Alice Munro, two writers at the top of their game. Seeing how they create and build tension, craft propulsive story lines, and spin out dialogue that sparkles can be one of the best ways to improve your own work.
So if you’ve got one or more short stories tucked away somewhere, why not step them out and see what happens? Write on!