Archives For Fiction

A post by Naomi Wood, Goldsmiths, University of London

Writing is something of a lawless place. Lawless, because there’s no clear indication that your effort will bring success; or that an answer will ever emerge from the mud; or that the most insane, most unpromising idea won’t reward you eventually.

Writing, especially in the drafting stage, can get very swampy indeed. In the first drafts I write to see what’s going to happen. I don’t know anything until I’ve begun to probe the life of the character. Is there someone at the door? A piece of unexpected news in the post? Weevils in the flour which means the cake is ruined?

I find first drafts scary and hard to do. I will do lots of other things instead of writing this draft. Scrubbing mould from the bathroom’s grouting. My laundry. My marking. Even my tax return, with its eminently calculable results …

What I do to get it done is lie to myself. I tell myself I’m writing short-stories, not a novel. If I take baby-steps I know I can get there, but if I knew it was a marathon, I’d never begin.

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The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest 2016

Kenyon Review was founded by John Crowe Ransom in 1939. It prides itself on publishing talented emerging writers, especially from diverse communities, alongside many distinguished, established writers. Kenyon Review’s short stories have won more O. Henry Awards than any other non-profit journal and it frequently appears on lists ranking America’s best literary magazines.

The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest is only open to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. To enter writers must provide a story of up to 1200 words.

The judge of the 2016 contest is Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule, winner of the  National Book Award for Fiction in 2010. An entry fee of US$20 is payable with each entry; in exchange each entrant receives a one year subscription to the magazine (normally $30).

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23 Short StoryCompetitionsIn 2016

Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award
carries a first prize of US$3500 and has four finalist prizes ($1000 each) and five runners-up prizes ($500 each). Stories can be up to 8000 words and must be previously unpublished. Entries for the 2016 award open on 1 December 2015 and close on 31 January 2016.

Caine Prize for African Writing
is awarded to a short story (3000 to 10,000 words) by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere. ‘An African writer’ is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or whose parents are African. First prize is £10,000 (US$15,000) and the shortlisted writers will also receive a travel prize and £500 each. Entries close 31 January. 

Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
is run by Vermont-based journal Hunger Mountain. The winner receives US$1000 and publication. The judge of the 2016 prize is award-winning novelist, poet and playwright Janet Burroway. Stories may be up to 10,000 words in length and entries close on 1 March.

Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction
is offered each year by Colorado State University’s Center for Literary Publishing. The winner receives a US$2000 honorarium and the story is published in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review. There are no theme restrictions, but stories must be at least 10 pages (or 2500 words) but no more than 50 pages (12,500 words). Entries close 14 March

Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize
offers a total of AUD$12,500 (US$9000) in prize money and is open to writers worldwide. Entries must be between 2000 and 5000 words and written in English. The winner will be announced at a special event at the Melbourne Writers Festival in August. Entries close 11 April.

Bath Short Story Award
is open to stories up to 2200 words in length. Stories may be in any genre and entries from both published and unpublished writers are encouraged. First Prize is £1000 (US$1500) and a selection of twenty winning, shortlisted and longlisted stories will be published in a print and digital anthology. Entries close on 25 April.

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Penn State University Writing Residency

Pennsylvania State University‘s Altoona Campus English Program is taking applications for a one-semester teaching residency in poetry and playwriting/screenwriting. The program is targeted at early career writers, preferably without a published book.

The residency is designed to offer an emerging writer substantial time to write and offers a salary of $10,000 in return for teaching one general education level introduction to creative writing workshop during the Fall 2016 semester (22 August to 16 December).

The resident writer will also give a public reading, visit other creative writing courses and work informally with English major students. The hiring committee is looking for a writer with a history of publication in poetry and staged readings/performances (and/or publications) in playwriting or screenwriting. The successful candidate typically lives in the Altoona area during the residency; benefits and housing are not included.

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AL Kennedy's Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

A.L.Kennedy was born in Scotland in 1965. She is the author of six literary novels, one science fiction novel, seven short story collections and three works of non-fiction including the wonderful writer’s resource On Writing. In 2010 Kennedy shared the following advice with readers of The Guardian, published as part of a series  inspired to Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing.

1. Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.

2. Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life – and maybe even please a few strangers.

3. Defend others. You can, of course, steal stories and attributes from family and friends, fill in filecards after lovemaking and so forth. It might be better to celebrate those you love – and love itself – by writing in such a way that everyone keeps their privacy and dignity intact.

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15 Short Story Competitions to Enter Before the Year of the Year

Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest
is one of three contests run each year by the literary magazine.The winner of the contest will receive US$1500 and have his or her work published in the July/August 2016 issue of Boston Review. The runners-up stories may also be published. Entries close 1 October.

Calvino Prize
is an annual fiction competition sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Louisville. The prize is awarded for writing in the fabulist experimentalist style of Italo Calvino. First prize is US$1500 and publication in Salt Hill Journal. Stories must be less than 25 pages in length. Entries close 14 October.

Margaret River Short Story Writing Competition
is open to all authors of any age or nationality. Winning and shortlisted stories will be selected for publication. First prize is valued at AUD$1000 and includes $500 cash and $500 contribution towards an airfare to attend the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival in Western Australia plus a two-week residency in Margaret River to be taken up at any time .Entries close 14 October.

London Magazine
is England’s oldest literary periodical, with a history stretching back to 1732. Entries for the magazine’s prestigious short story competition are welcomed from writers around the world. The winner will receive £500 and publication. Entries close 31 October.

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What We Look for in Unsolicted Submissions

A guest post by Kim Winternheimer, editor of The Masters Review

The Masters Review is a publication that focuses entirely on new and emerging writers, offering a quality platform for readers, agents, and editors to discover new voices. In addition to our printed anthology, we have submission opportunities year round including a short story award for new writers, workshops, and a fiction contest running throughout September and October. Nearly all the stories we publish are unsolicited, which means most of our work comes from the slush pile. So how do you make your story stand out? Here’s what we look for when reading stories.

1. Clarity 

Especially at the beginning of a piece. Assume any story you submit is being read by editors who are also reading many other stories that week, day, or even hour. A difficult beginning is disastrous because it informs the reader’s opinion on the rest of the story, making her less forgiving of small errors or lulls later. The start of your story should read clearly on the sentence level and avoid too much exposition or throat clearing. Our favorite pieces show intention, finesse, and clarity from the start, and introduce the story in a way that is easy to understand, even if the piece is experimenting with structure or other style.

2. A Good Hook 

The opening line in this year’s anthology is: “Almost everyone agreed that the death of Rodrigo Bradley had been an accident.” This is a great example of a piece that begins in the action of the story. When reading a large number of submissions, it helps to begin with a plot element that immediately draws readers into the world and has them wondering: “What will happen next?”

3. Productive Ambiguity 

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