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L. Discussions
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Today was the cover reveal for my debut novel NOBODY BUT US! It's been a crazy and amazing day and I…
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  •  · Chuffed for you.  👏 
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Call me biased but after today's judge announcement this competition offers writers to chance to get…
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  •  · Thank you, L. I'm terrifically unlikely to be shortlisted in anything, of course. Balancing the poss…
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Happy New Year!One of my short stories 'Light is Merely a Distraction' is part of the Unbound Series…
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I hope everybody is enjoying the holidays.Even though it is the festive season it hasn't stopped my …
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  •  · This does gives me some reassurance and I'm glad that you have a good relationship with your agent a…
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2020 is almost over and I thought it would be nice for people to share their top three favourite rea…
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  •  · Pratchett was a genius, no? Hogfather, Thud, and Fifth Elephant get better each reading.
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Hi, I just wanted to share a short story of mine that was published in print last month. It's a tale…
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  •  · Thank you!

Read it last year and it such a great book. Very atmospheric. Lots to discuss as well.  

Added a comment to Hello! 

Congratulations on completing your legal thriller! 

A “name” is only really useful for non-fiction, especially for things like lifestyle or cookbooks or in fiction children’s books. General fiction is difficult because it’s a numbers game, agents receive thousands of submissions a year but only sign a handful of people and then publishers only take on a few debuts from agents each year. But it can happen to anybody with a lot of hard work/perseverance and a little bit of luck (landing in the right inbox at the right time) so why not you.

Good luck! 

As a woman I can confirm there is no difference. 

I had a short story published a few years ago about this, and what it means every day to be a woman http://www.femininecollective.com/why-female-fireflies-fake-death/ 

In terms of genre this is contemporary fiction.

It has potential and there are some good moments and real rawness in places, but overall it didn't feel like a short story to me, more like an extract from a bigger piece. It might be because it felt quite distant in the sense that there is a lot of telling, stage directions and the use of "I". I know Harry did a blog a while back about the over-use of "I" in 1st POV.

For example, "As I pressed the plunger home, I felt the wave of narcosis suffuse my mind and body. All thoughts of sex and cute little tits were rinsed from my thoughts as I slipped into semi-consciousness, like a ship drifting into the mist." All the "I's" add to the telling effect, plus 'felt' is a filtering verb which again add distance and a layer between the MC and the reader. One way for example to make the prose tighter and more immersive: "The plunger hit home, and the wave of narcosis suffused my mind and body. All thoughts of sex and cute little tits rinsed from my thoughts as semi-consciousness unfurled, like mist around a drifting ship." In this example, I'm not told what the MC does and how he feels, I'm in here with him, I watch the plunger hits home, I am with the MC as he slips into semi-consciousness, etc...

Another example, "I went into the kitchen to find little Elsie still there gouching out. Sitting opposite her at the formica table, I pulled out the little wallet I carried, it contained a works and so on." Again this can be tightened by losing some of the stage directions and unnecessary explanation: "In the kitchen, Elsie was still gouched out. Sitting opposite her I dropped my gear wallet on the table." Because the MC has just asked if he can go do a hit, the 'in the kitchen' implies he's walked into the kitchen, and just the fact that 'Elsie was gouched out' implies that how the MC finds her. Also I'm trusting the reader that because it is a story about an addict they can work out what a gear wallet is.

Something else that can make the story a lot more vivid is using all the sense. This story relies main on sight, and some hearing (dialogue), but we are missing smells, hearing (noises), and touch. For example instead of telling us he has greasy hair, get him to rake his  fingers through his hair and wipe the grease off on his jeans. Show us how horrible the place he lives in is by adding rank smells, etc...

With short stories, every word counts and needs to earn its place. This story could be edited and tightened a lot. Furthermore, with short stories it is as much about what's not being said or what's implied as what's on the page.

I hope this helps.

The article is on The Daily Mail website (says it all really). I believe access is not restricted on location so you should be able to read it. 

What annoys me with comments like those of Sebastian Faulks is that instead of engaging in a dialogue and trying to listen to women concerns or comments, he just twists the narrative to make himself look like a victim. It is possible to do something without intending to or unknowingly, and it's fine to stop and listen. A lot of the time the issue is with male writers being unable to describe a female character without sexualising them in some way, or writing unconvincingly from a female POV. 

Yes, Jack Reacher is described as 6 foot 3 and 250lbs man, but I'm quite sure as well that in none of the books he's described like how great his ass looks in those jeans or staring at himself in the mirror marvelling at how tight his pecs are. And I'm not talking about the thoughts of the characters, but the bias of the author seeping in the narrative. It's about the tired clichés as well like for example when women are only seen as "virgin or whores", it's not about describing female characters, but about reducing them to those physical attributes.

Regarding the writing outside of your own experience. There are people with extremist views which I don't share, but again the majority of the discussion is not that extreme, instead of just having white writers telling underrepresented or POC stories and experiences, how about working on making publishing more diverse so underrepresented writers can tell their stories. 

It's not about you can't write a character who is a POC that's very reductive of the whole conversation. It's about knowing what you don't know. For example, I do not know how it is to be WOC in the US and how it feels every time your husband or son leaves the house and wondering if they will get stop by the police and killed for no reason. Living with that truth every day.

If as white writers we are going to tell those stories then we need to do our research and use sensitivity readers. Going back to the previous example it's about learning, talking to mothers who are living that life, watching documentaries, using sensitivity readers to get it right instead of relying on clichés or filtering those experiences through a white gaze. Again it goes back to knowing what you don't know and seek help and knowledge to learn and get it right. But again instead of engaging in the conversation, most writers, like Sebastian Faulks in this instance, just twist the narrative around and make it like they are the victims, shutting down any kind of dialogue.

I know you never would, but they are plenty of other people who are less than gracious when receiving a rejection. I've heard quite a few stories of the kind of abusive emails agents have received.

Something that can also put off agents responding after an initial submission the many disgruntled and sometimes abusive responses agents have gotten after sending a rejection.

However I agree that if an agent has specifically asked for the full then it is common courtesy to give an answer. 

Lay is tricky because it has 2 meanings:

1. Lay is the past tense to lie (to rest in a horizontal position). For example, “this morning she lies on her back” but “yesterday she lay on her back”

2. The verb “to lay” (to set down). For example, “today the chickens lay 10 eggs” or “they lay new railroad track”.

I hope that helps. 

I agree with all of Glyn's suggestions about font and spacing. I would also mention adding some margins to give more space and avoid the page looking like a wall of text which is a turn-off.

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