The Craft explores a different aspect of the writing process each month. For December, I asked Alex Shvartsman—who’s sold nearly 60 short stories and is the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects series of anthologies and the brand-new Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic—about getting published. Here’s what she had to say…
Photo by JeanMarie Ward
James Aquilone: You’ve had pretty good success getting published in the short fiction markets over the last three years. What’s your secret? Does it involve bribes?
Alex Shvartsman: Absolutely — I do accept bribes from editors in exchange for submitting my stories to them. I mostly prefer these bribes in the form of chocolate, coffee, and flattery, but ultimately I’m flexible.
I attribute my relative success in short fiction publishing to my total lack of discipline and attention needed to write an actual novel. I’m like that dog in Up. While talented writers are spending months and years on writing the next Great American Novel, every time I start thinking about my own novel-in-progress, SQUIRREL! — a short story idea hijacks my brain and won’t let go until I’ve written it down. My total word output for the year isn’t all that great — but it’s all short stories, so it seems like a lot.
The Craft is a column that explores the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Cat Rambo, the author of Near + Far, Eyes Like Sky And Coal And Moonlight, and Creating an Online Presence (Careerbuilding for Writers), about plot. Here’s what she had to say…
James Aquilone: What is a plot?
Cat Rambo: To me, it’s the way the story is structured. Not just the events that make up the story, but their arrangement as well: the pace and way in which information is parceled out to the reader.
The Craft is a column that explores the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Mercedes M. Yardley, the author of Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and Beautiful Sorrows, about writing horror. Here’s what she had to say…
James Aquilone: What is the surest way of scaring the bejesus out of a reader?
Mercedes M. Yardley: I think the surest way to scare the reader is to write something that scares yourself. If you’re writing with that sense of terror, the reader will pick up on it. I’m scared of losing my children. I’m scared of being cut with knives. These are themes that show up in my work, and even if you aren’t afraid of being sliced and diced like I am, hopefully you’ll feel that sense of foreboding because I do.
We’re all afraid. We’re all human animals, and fear is hardwired into our genes. As an author, exploit that.
The Craft is a new column that will explore the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Adam-Troy Castro, the author of the Philip K. Dick Award winning novel Emissaries From the Dead and the Gustav Gloom fantasy series, about character development.
James Aquilone: What steps do you take when creating a character?
Adam-Troy Castro: In plot-driven stories I figure out who is most vulnerable to the central situation of a story; then I engineer the character around that. In character-driven stories I create somebody who does not get along with the universe and watch the conflicts develop.