Monday, 23 February 2015

A Short Story Collection

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been busy pulling a number of my short stories together into a collection. This is something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while, especially since a good number have already been published but have now gone out of print. I originally thought I might self-publish them, but then a friend of mine told me about a publisher he had been doing some work with, CFZ publishing. Like many small publishers they are quite niche, but their niche is one that fits well my style of fiction. So I’m going to give them a try.

But pulling your short stories together into a collection isn’t such an easy task, and here are a couple of things I’ve had to take into account:

Running order: This is a tricky one. The stories need to be sufficiently distinct from the ones they are adjacent to but not so different as to be jarring. I also wanted to mix up the previously published with the new material.

Opening stories: These are the ones that will appear on the kindle ‘look inside’ option and will determine whether the reader clicks the buy button or not. Therefore they need to give a good representation of the anthology and also be some of my better stories.

Final story: The collection needs to finish on a high note so the final story needs to pack a punch. This was quite easy. I have a piece of flash fiction that I feel rounds off the collection quite well.

Character names: I never noticed before that I have a tendency to reuse names. So for example where I had two stories featuring a character called Lucy, one of these needed to be changed, otherwise the reader might think the characters and the two stories are connected.

Editing: Some of my earlier stories, when I re-read them, needed a bit of tidying up since my writing has improved a lot over the years. Even some that have previously been published!

Title: Finally what should I call my collection? I thought about using the title from one of my short stories but none really stood out. Then my friend suggested I use the title from this blog. It is certainly fitting with the style of stories – science fiction and mild horror that could well be described as ‘weird fiction’, as well as echoing the cryptozoological bent of the publisher. So The Scribbling Seaserpent it shall be.

Early days yet – but I’ll keep you up to date with developments.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dorset’s Digital Stories

On a bright but bitter February morning I was joined in my local village hall by thirteen eager writers. The reason for this? Well, the Dorset Writers’ Network is running a competition for local writers. The aim is to produce an e-book with stories up to 500 words, which reflect the diversity of the county. In order to encourage people to put pen to paper a series of workshops were scheduled at rural locations during January and February, and I was one of the writers involved in running these.
As sunshine streamed in through the windows of the Old School Hall we explored setting and sense of place. We then went on character development and touched on dialogue and self-editing. I could see some really interesting stories starting to develop and I do hope the participants go on to complete these and enter them. Workshop participants can enter their first story for free but even if you didn’t attend a workshop you are still able to enter.

The Dorset Writers’ Network is run by professional writers and arts facilitators and its aim is to promote events, projects and training opportunities for writers in the county. The Dorset’s Digital Stories project is funded by Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts and Dorset Community Foundation and the book is scheduled to be published later this year.

For more details and to check out the competition rules visit the Dorset Writers Network website.