Where to start, yeah? For this column I talk about ten powerful voices in contemporary literature that you may never have heard of before. Each one of these voices is somebody that has impressed me with their words, destroyed me with the honesty and emotion, and become a name that I will follow for the rest of my life. Head on over to see what I say about them, but here are the names anyway: Matt Bell, Tina May Hall, Craig Davidson, Holly Goddard Jones, Kyle Minor, Roxane Gay, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Alan Heathcock, and xTx. There’s something here for everybody, but know this: they all take risks, and they all hold nothing back.
My latest Storyville column is all about writing dynamic settings. I’m a big believer in grounding your work in reality, whether you write literary stories that focus on an internal monologue, or fantastic stories set in distant galaxies. I hate stories with floating heads that don’t tell me where I am. So, here are some tips on how to deliver the goods by revealing character, using all five senses, and painting with broad brush stokes so that you allow your audience to picture the setting while bringing their own history and experiences onto the stage. Hope it helps!
My new Storyville column is now up, and in this column, I dissect one of my favorite bits of short fiction, “Maker of Flight.” Why do I love this story? Partly because it has a sweetness at its center—it’s one of the few stories of mine I can actually read to my children. Every once in awhile they’ll quote the last line, “I wonder if the sky is still blue?” back to me and it just melts my heart. I also love it because it was the winner of the 2009 “Enter the world of Filaria” contest over at ChiZine. The contest asked you to write a flash story (under 1,000 words) that was based in the world of one of their titles, Filaria, by Brent Hayward. It’s a fantastic book, and I really enjoyed this challenge. I hope you get something out of the dissection. And pick up some ChiZine titles, they do great work over there. I also loved In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay and Sarah Court by Craig Davidson.
My third column, The Word, is now up at ManArchy. We talk about a fantastic graphic novel, 100 Bullets, spending time at your local library, Aeon Flux, one of the best animated series ever, Ramen Noodles, and remembering to spend time with your daughter. Go check it out.
I have a second column up at ManArchy. This one covers a fantastic collection by Matt Bell, Cataclysm Baby, as well as my thoughts on BBQ, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Head on over for more information.
New Storyville column is now up, all about writing narrative hooks. I focus on some of the work of southern gothic author Ron Rash. How do get your audience’s attention with one line? Icebergs and red herrings, what are those? In medias res, have you heard that said before? It’s Latin. And which of these are not narrative hooks: descriptions, settings, action, dialogue, back story? One hint: all of them. Hope it helps!