Progress Report – Beard Crumbs & Contests

I had vowed that this would be the month I would get back on track; after a winter of “life getting in the way” I have to start sending queries to agents. I am finding ways to avoid that. Or at least that’s one interpretation, that I am fiddling with the novel as a stalling tactic to avoid the big bad commercial world. Another interpretation is that I am listening to the responses I am getting from friends and professionals.
Whatever. Let’s just say I feel there are still crumbs in my beard.
I only received one comment about my idea to move a late passage in the book to the beginning as a sort of prologue, but it came from the excellent and commercially-savvy crime novelist Oliver Tidy which gives it vastly more weight than most, so I’ve done that. We’ll see if it helps.
This also led to my realizing that the whole chapter this passage came from stands alone as a short story, and I thought I might send it out as such. For a lark on Tuesday April 2, I searched for short story contests. April seems to be contest month, with several contests for unpublished writers being held. One well regarded literary magazine had a contest closing that very day, but luckily would take submissions by email. Serendipity? Motivation at least. Click click done. And a couple more to come, though with slightly smaller word-count limits.
It’s strange reading a chapter as a stand-alone story, especially for me as the writer. All the little bits of world-building, from character histories to the abilities and limits of magical powers, that I spend tens of thousands of words setting up, are suddenly things the reader has to take as given, the way my three-year-old accepts Zeus in Aesop’s fables or Jehovah in Noah’s Ark. (I may not be an atheist but I’m more a mystic than a believer.)
Of course some people grow out of fairy tales, and need things carefully explained to them. I’m starting to think most of those people become literary agents. But winning a contest, they might understand that. So maybe I am not fiddling so much as playing small venues.
I’d love to post the story but some contests ask the work not be published online while they are judging it. So you’ll have to wait, or ask privately in the comments. It’s quite a hoot, I promise you that.

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Anthony Dobranski Posted on

Novelist, writer, game designer, skier.


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