Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Can Take My Own Medicine

We've handed the 10 finalists for Contest #16 to the prize judges. By next weekend, we ought to know which stories have been accepted.

Coincidentally, after three rejection slips of my own, I got an acceptance letter, too. 

What that means is, there's a good chance that while we're editing the winning stories from Contest #16, my own work will be undergoing editing from the people at Cliffhanger Books, who will be publishing a short story anthology I'll have a story in. Since one of this blog's areas of focus is editing, I've got a chance to show behind-the-scenes secrets of editors from two perspectives. Assuming the authors permit, we'll be giving you glimpses of how and why we edit our winning stories, and I'll also be sharing some of the edits the Cliffhangers people make to my fiction. 
None of these features are likely to start for at least a week, of course, so until then we'll be doing what we've done so far: highlighting prose I especially admire from great short story writers, and occasionally questioning the decisions of editors who let something pass that I would have wanted a bit more thought put into.

So for now, I'll leave you with an excerpt from an author who writes in a way I've never been able to. This prose comes from Silver Water by Amy Bloom. It's used to describe a family counselor whom the narrator admires. 

Three hundred pounds of Texas chili, cornbread and Lone Star beer, finished off with big black cowboy boots and a little string tie around the area of his neck.

Bloom describes the character in a way that gives you a perfect idea of what kind of person the counselor probably is, yet the description is nearly 100% metaphorical, or at least greatly exaggerated. (Surely he's wearing more than boots and a string tie.) Talk about "evoking" as opposed to just "showing" or "telling"! Before I read that line, I had never considered attempting to describe a character based solely on his or her diet. I'm not sure it would work for many characters or in many stories, but it works in this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment