Mourn for the journalists

The people on the other side of fiction, those guys, yeah, they haven’t been doing so well lately. In a way, you could say that the book publishing industry has been suffering a very slow death at the hands of Americans that are too lazy to read now.

But the internet has called for the heads of the new industry now. As writers, I think we should be a concerned. As a journalism major, I’m very concerned. There is a never-ending debate about their future. A one Warren Buffet, pretty much the most celebrated CEO in America right now, said he wouldn’t invest a cent into the news industry, ouch.

Soon, there are going to be big markets with no newspaper to serve them. New England and San Fransisco are close. And so is my own Baltimore. Not a good feeling to be a writer and know other writers are being treated like this.

Let’s give a moment to the journalists out there. Professional writing isn’t such a hot skill these days. Keep your chins up.

Lit Mag find

I found another good literary magazine site. Pretty straightforward on the name and content: Best Online Literary Magazines.

What’s up with writers being so bad at design? No offence to them, since I’m using their site and I do like the content, but nowadays any jerk can get a decent looking WordPress theme (self-reference humor).

It’s all in the details

Detail detail detail. When to use detail in short fiction? That can be a tough choice. In a novel, you basically have unlimited space to say as much as you want whenever you want (I’m looking at you John Updike, with your paragraphs that are longer then a page). I’m going to give a few ideas about how I think detail should be used in short fiction.

Don’t over-saturate with background information.

I’ll say the average short story is 8-12 pages. That does not give you a lot of space to say everything you need. My tenure as a selection editor taught me that. Many student stories would spend 2/3 of their length just setting things up and giving the background information. Then the actual story would be crammed in at the end. Be immediate. The past can be a tool for giving just a little extra info when it’s needed.

Precession is key.

Be choosy. Pick and chose your details for the right moments. Let them set the mood and help establish a tone. By choosing just certain details to tell the reader an attic could vary from ominous to wondrous within the same structure of a sentence.

I can’t say that there is a specific “right” way to write detail, but I do think those are two great tips on how to use them. Your word choice and how you structure them are totally up to your style.

Pif Magazine – is less more?

The next online literary magazine to fall under my scope is “Pif,” another all-in-one like “Hidden City Quarterly” though with a lot more clout and a lot less style.

Pros

  • Has been published since 1995 and has a rich archive.
  • Will take pretty much anything as a submission.
  • Content is all on the main page.
  • Hosts Pilot-Search, a literary search engine

Cons

  • Front page is ugly
  • Very overwhelming at first. There is no introduction, just an assault of content.
  • Links are confusing and strangely labeled. (masthead and mediakit)
  • Why is Pilot-Search so buried if it’s as good as they claim?

So what we have is a site that is all about substance over style. Way over style. No style can be found at all. At first glance, the website looks like a fake one designed to trick people into looking at ads. What “Pif” really screams for is organization. The front page looks like it should be a different page, maybe one labeled “content.”

The jury is still out on Pilot-Search. It claims to be the largest literary search engine, but then why have I never heard of it? And why is it so hard to find?

The content itself is decent. Nothing particularly wowed me. Everything seems to come from a published writer. What’s interesting is that you have to create an account to see any information about submissions. It seems that Pif wants to be exclusive. In that strive, they are excluding readers as well.

Despite my harsh opinions, “Pif” claims to have a large readership that returns “…12.5 times per month.” Maybe one of you guys will enjoy it more then I did.

Verdict: Pass it. There are many literary magazines online.

Call for fiction

Just like how I posted one of my own stories, I’d like to post some submitted stories as well.

Since this is a not for profit site, and hardly a publication, this could be a great place for a public workshop. Just in the format that I put my story up (and the great comments I got) I think it would be a great experience to do this with other people’s stories.

So leave me a comment or shoot me an email with an attachment and I can start posting some stories.

Writer’s Block

It affects us all sometimes. Anyone who writes for any means, be it pleasure or work or a creative writing class that fills a general requirement, knows the trouble in overcoming writer’s block. I guess it could be seen as ironic that a blog about fiction writing would be suddenly stopped with a bad stretch of the block. But there are ways to get past it.

Not quite sinister enough.

Not quite sinister enough.

Read for inspiration. Try reading some short stories or maybe a good book. Sometimes great inspiration can come from another. For example, when Eddie Van Halen invented finger tapping after listening to the solo from “Heartbreaker.”

Tackle the block head on. By this I mean, sit down in front of your medium and accept that you have writer’s block. Good, now think about whatever is on your mind lately or current emotions that have been prevelent in your life. Explore them. You might end up creating a masterpiece. Also, give fiction prompts a try. They might not lead to any pieces that you would want to keep but they could get you writing again.

Just leave it alone for a while. There is always the possibility of putting down whatever you’re working on for a while. Sometimes, inspiration takes time. When writing becomes so automatic, does it lose it’s creativity? I have no answer for that, though I think it would make a great discussion break.

That's a better representation.

That's a better representation.

So I definately feel my writer’s block crumbling. I have to admit, this is a way harder topic to writing about then I originally thought it would. I do enjoy this little project, and I’ve gotten some great comments, so I’m glad people appreciate what I’m trying to do here. I think I’m getting all sentimental on you guys. Let’s cut it before the waterworks. Peace in the East.

Resources for Writers

Okay, in all fairness this should be called, “Resource for Writers,” but then it just makes this sound like a paid advertisement, which it isn’t, but could be. I accept paypal.

Tonight I bring all of you aspiring writers Newpages.com. This is like me as a webpage and without the sarcasm charm. I’m going to focus on the parts of the site that would be most important for us, so don’t yell at me if you see other things up there I didn’t talk about. What I see them as being most useful for is their comprehensive list of literary magazines. newpageslogoorangeblack

Unfortunately, these are not divided into online or print only categories. This means some of the content could be hidden behind a subscription fee.

What I really like, though, is the list of current writing contests. They also have a list of lit mags that are actively looking for content right now. Some plus, some negative but still worth checking out. Good link to have bookmarked.

Best link to have bookmarked? Me fools.