Archives For Fiction

Hollie Overton - Baby Doll Interview

Hollie Overton is a Chicago-born, Texas-raised writer who has worked on a number of television series including Cold Case, The Client List and Shadowhunters, the series based on Cassandra Clare’s international bestseller The Mortal Instruments.

Hollie’s debut novel, Baby Doll, is out this month. We contacted her to find out more about her experience writing both scripts and books.

You didn’t study creative writing or English Literature at college, but instead acting. Do you think this background as a performer impacts your approach to storytelling? 
Acting was my first love and those skills I learned have been invaluable as both as a TV writer and now a novelist.  I fell in love with performing in middle school and high school.  I learned how to tell stories by analyzing plays, breaking down characters and studying structure. I spent years studying acting and all that knowledge informs everything I write. I visual things that I’m writing, how will it look, is it authentic. The same goes for dialogue.  How would it sound if an actor were saying those words? Even though I didn’t continue my acting pursuits, I’m so grateful for the training and that it led me down this career path.

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A post by Rebecca Makkai

You probably knew, when you started writing, that you’d signed on for murder. I was warned well in advance: One of my favorite childhood books was Lois Lowry’s The One Hundredth Thing About Caroline, in which the title character finds the notebook of the man her mother is dating. “Eliminate the kids,” one note says. She and her brother swing into crime-fighting mode, only to discover in the end that this man, a writer, was talking about editing characters out of his work-in-progress.

Later, as I studied writing, I’d hear authors lament the characters they’d had to erase from draft two, the ones who “felt like real people” to them. Or they’d talk about the ones they kept around because, despite the fact that they served no real purpose in the narrative, they’d become old friends.

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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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