I’m Teaching a New 16-Week Advanced Creative Writing Workshop Class Online!

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WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP FOR THE JANUARY 2018 CLASS.
BOOKS WILL CHANGE in 2018, FYI.
(May and September 2017 are full.)  

Since my last class, Contemporary Dark Fiction, has done so well, I thought I’d launch a second class, an Advanced Creative Writing Workshop. How is this class different? Well, there will be less focus on craft, and teaching you the basics, and more time spent reading and writing. It’s essentially what I did when I got my MFA back in 2012.

What I loved in my MFA was reading contemporary short fiction to see what was going on, what was being published, and what was getting attention. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to read these three anthologies: The Best American Short Stories, The Best Horror of the Year, and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. This is a great way to stay up to date, to research current markets, study with the masters, and find new voices. In my MFA we only focused on literary fiction (BASS), so adding in Best Horror and Best SF&F will really help you to expand your voice and learn from those genres as well. (If we publish a Best of Gamut in 2018, we may swap that out, down the road, for one of these titles.)

With class sizes small, a maximum of eight students, these will probably fill up quickly.

More information below.

OVERVIEW:

Each week, you will read two stories that I have curated from the three aforementioned anthologies, selecting the stories that I think are the most powerful, unique, and with the most to teach us. There will also be a weekly Skype call (2 hours), where we will talk about that week’s short stories, and what the authors did well, how they are innovative, and how you might apply that to your own writing. We will also workshop two of YOUR stories, applying the same level of critical analysis. (Two student stories per week, with each student workshopping a total of FOUR stories, overall.) We will have additional ongoing questions and conversations on Facebook (in a private, secret group). At the end of the month, you will turn in an original short story based on whatever inspired you over the course of our studies, up to 5,000 words. I will read, edit, and critique each story, and return it to you with advice on what to do next (keep editing, drop it, polish it up, send it out). In addition to commenting on each other’s work (workshopping) the stories in Skype, you will also read and give feedback on the other short stories in the class via email (and the Word docs). At the end of the semester you will get one hour of private Skype time with me to talk about anything you like—your work in class, other projects, the industry in general, markets, query letters, how to get an agent, what to do next, etc. (Note: You will have to come to class with ONE short story already written. You will write THREE in class, not turning in a story in the final month.)

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level
  2. Authors who write genre fiction and are looking to make their work more literary
  3. Literary authors who are looking to add some genre, or supernatural aspects, to their realism
  4. Authors who have published several stories already
  5. Authors who don’t need to be taught craft, or the basics of short story writing
  6. Anyone looking to expand their understanding of contemporary fiction
  7. Authors that are looking to publish in the top magazines, websites, and anthologies
  8. Writers who have the time and discipline to read every week, and write a new short story once a month

(This is not a class for beginning students or authors, unless you already have some study and experience. We will not teach the basics, but will already assume you understand that, and are looking to study contemporary masters, apply it to your own work, and then create new material on a monthly basis.)

TESTIMONIALS: 

“I would definitely recommend this class to a friend—in fact, I’ve already recommended it to several. This course has changed me. I’ve taken quite a few classes, workshops, and retreats, but none of them has had the effect on me that this one has. I see writing through a different lens now. It’s as though I’ve gone through a battle and come out a seasoned soldier. I’m more confident, more aware, more educated than I was before.”
—Brenda T.

“This workshop offers a great balance of reading the masters, critiquing and being critiqued, and time for writing new material. Just having completed the workshop, I’ve already received a few comments from beta readers that the depth of my characters and attention to setting have improved. Richard is an expert at designing workshops, and he’s very responsive to individual questions throughout the 16 weeks. In addition to being incredibly knowledgeable about the craft and the business side, he’s a fun and engaging person to learn from. At least based on the workshop I took, he draws some of the best emerging writers to his courses. Far from a chore, critiquing the other writers’ manuscripts work was a pleasure. Richard and the other writers offered creative, smart ideas for improving each of my manuscripts. Not only that, Richard is open to giving feedback on more than one draft of the same manuscript. I highly recommend the workshop. It’s a terrific experience.”—Matt F.

“Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop is perhaps the best writing course I have ever been in, and I’ve completed a 3 year Creative Writing degree with a Man Booker Prize long-listed author! The 16 weeks of the course will provide you with the same level of insight, depth and challenge as an MA degree, exploring celebrated contemporary writers alongside the work of your fellow students. The literature covered here is broad in terms of genre: from The Best American Short Stories, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Best Horror anthologiesso there’s a huge amount to be learned from these genres and apply to your own work in interesting ways. Quite apart from the astonishing insights and editing you’ll receive from your fellows, you also get a chance to receive feedback from Richard, who is an incredible teacher in terms of his insight into storytelling, his attentiveness, and his willingness to allow you to blossom as your own writer, rather than forcing you into a prescriptive model as so many big name authors do. I can honestly say that I’ve found my voice as a writer from going on this course and it’s already lead to two professional sales and a competition win with a cash prize. If you want to step up your game, take this course. You seriously won’t regret it.”—Joseph S.

“This class is the logical next step for authors on the cusp of breaking out. If you’ve already published a few pieces and want to take your writing to the next level, this is the class for you. Richard forces you to read more, write more, and critique more while interacting with like-minded writers who want to improve their game. Highly recommended!”—Repo K.

“Richard is passionate about helping you become a better writer, and that translates into a class environment that is supportive, irreverent, and creates lasting relationships with cool new people with similar goals. And it will kick your writing up several notches.”—Kris M.

“Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop moves beyond the basics of the short form, looking at how components come together to form a polished work. He utilizes the Best of the Year anthologies to look at not only what’s been published, but what has stood out that year, and why. Using these same techniques, you break down your own work highlighting what works, and what doesn’t. Richard’s honesty paired with his supportive nature is invaluable during this process. He encourages you to reach beyond the comfortable, and you can always trust he’ll be there to guide you if you misstep. The in-depth analysis and encouragement really makes for a fantastic experience. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to move beyond short story basics. “—Shaw C.

“Taking this class was the best writing decision I made in a long time. I’ve been writing short stories seriously for years but was drowning in the waters of editing my stories to near death. This class was the kick in the ass I needed to get me out of my creative slump. With Richard and my amazing classmates, we broke down the best short stories of 2016, going beyond the mechanics of storytelling or craft and looking at all level of a stories effectiveness and impact. We built those stories back up examining what made them work (or sometimes not work). We did the same with our own fiction examining each other’s stories each week and looking at how we could apply the lessons we’d learned to our own work. With Richard’s guidance’s our class was an enthusiastic, supportive and fun environment that I already miss participating in each week. Richard will take the talent, craft and skills you already have and challenge you to rise to the next level. If you’re thinking about taking this class, I’d advise you to stop thinking about it and go for it, you won’t regret it.”—Brandon P.

COST/FINANCING:

$800, via Paypal to wickerkat@aol.com. $100 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. If you are a returning student (from ANY of my classes, anywhere) take 10% off. If you pay in FULL at the time of deposit, take an additional 10% off. Otherwise, it’s $100 upon registration, $350 before class starts, and the balance of $350 due prior to the start of the second month. You are required to purchase the three anthologies (or feel free to check them out at your local library) for extended discussion. (Additional payment options are available, if needed.)

Returning student + paid in full: $640 ($40 a week)
Returning student, not paid in full: $720 ($100 down + $310/$310; $45 a week)
Paid in full, not returning student: $720 ($45 a week)
Not returning student, not paid in full: $800 ($100 down + $350/$350; $50 a week)

Drop me a note at richardgamut@gmail.com to register, to request a full syllabus, or if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Richard

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I’m Teaching a New Online Creative Writing Class, 16 Weeks Long, About Contemporary Dark Fiction

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SOLD OUT FOR 2017 and JANUARY 2018. WE ARE NOW TAKING STUDENTS FOR MAY 2018.

Hello everyone! I’m going to teach a new creative writing class online called Contemporary Dark Fiction. It’ll be SIXTEEN WEEKS long (I know!) essentially the same length as your average semester.

This is the class I’ve always wanted to teach, taking the best aspects of the classes that I’VE TAKEN online, as well as my MFA, and focusing on books that I love (and think are important) as well as stories I’ve curated. Class sizes are going to be small (a maximum of eight students). Here is a little more information, but if you’d like to sign up, or ask for a syllabus, please drop me a note at richardgamut@gmail.com.

OVERVIEW:

Each week, you will read one column that I’ve written at LitReactor.com, and we will talk about how to apply that to your own writing. You will also have at least one short story to read each week, which will relate to that week’s column. You will then have a writing assignment for that week that utilizes what you’ve learned from the column and story—anywhere from 200-1,000 words. In addition to that, you will have a section of a novel to read. You will read four books in four months, so that means a book a month. There will also be a weekly Skype call (1.5 hours), where we will talk about that week’s short story, the column and subject, as well as the novel section that you have read. We will have additional ongoing questions and conversations at Facebook (in a private, secret group). At the end of the month, you will turn in an original short story based on whatever inspired you over the course of our studies, up to 4,000 words. I will read, edit, and critique each story, and return it to you with advice on what to do next (keep editing, drop it, polish it up, send it out). At the end of the semester you will get one hour of private Skype time with me to talk about anything you like—your work in class, other projects, the industry in general, markets, query letters, how to get an agent, what to do next, etc.

BOOKS: (required)

The New Black (Dark House Press) edited by Richard Thomas (signed, included)
Exigencies (Dark House Press) edited by Richard Thomas (signed, included)
After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones (PDF, included)
The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (PDF, included)

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville $15.12 710 pages 978-0345443021
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer $8.12 208 pages 978-0374104092
All the Beautiful Sinners by Stephen Graham Jones $23.95 352 pages 978-1590710081
Bird Box by Josh Malerman $22.15 272 pages 978-0062259653

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level, as well as beginners who have no fear, and an open mind.
  2. Authors who write genre fiction and are looking to make their work more literary.
  3. Literary authors who are looking to add some genre, or supernatural aspects, to their realism.
  4. Anyone looking to expand their understanding of contemporary dark fiction.
  5. Authors that are looking to publish in the top magazines, websites, and anthologies.
  6. Writers who have the time and discipline to read and write every week for the next sixteen weeks.
  7. Authors who enjoy my writing, and/or the work I’ve published at Dark House Press, and/or the four anthologies I’ve edited.

(There will be some minor overlap with previous classes I’ve taught, but we will get into the novels and anthologies in much greater detail.)

TESTIMONIALS

“What is ‘Contemporary Dark Fiction?’ It can mean everything from noir to new weird, slipstream, horror and more. In 16 weeks, Richard Thomas takes you through stories about the absurd and grotesque, the horrific and unexpected. You will write over 50,000 words and you will test the boundaries of your own writing voice. It’s an honest-to-god thrill ride and you will enjoy the trip.”—Richard W.

“Yes, the short story reading list is fantastic and enlightening. Yes, the weekly columns will teach you or remind you of incredibly useful aspects of storytelling and technique. And yes, the novels are great, too, and ones you really ought to read. But the most valuable and important part of this class is how much Richard cares. He cares that you become a better writer, he cares that you are exposed to writing that makes you think, and he cares that you pursue and level up when it comes to your passion. There is no dollar amount you can put on that amount of caring, and its impact will last you far beyond this class.” —Becca J.

“One of Richard’s strengths is his commitment to diversity. He offers a safe, honest place to explore the art, and expand your talent no matter where you’re coming from, or your level of expertise. He’s knowledgeable, and approachable. I’d recommend his classes to anyone seeking to learn more about writing, or the genre of contemporary dark fiction.”—Shaw C. (NOTE: You can read this BLOG POST BY SHAW as well.)

“This class really helped me push my limits and learn new ways of writing and approaching different areas of my craft, while helping me to define my focus. The columns inspired me to write better. The content of your courses is fabulous and I always learn a lot.”—Erin C.

“I encourage everyone to take Richard Thomas’ Contemporary Dark Fiction Class. For sixteen weeks he leads a small group through a specially curated program of readings followed by Skype lectures and discussions. He will personally read and comment on your weekly and monthly writings. You will leave the class with a new appreciation of contemporary dark fiction.”—Dona F.

“This class was transformational for my work. It took my literary and genre navigation game to a new level.”—Daniela T.

“Richard has a wealth of knowledge and insight, and this class expanded and deepened my understanding of contemporary dark fiction to an extent that I don’t think I could have achieved on my own. “—Katherine W.

“Imagine your radiator exploding in the middle of a drive in the California desert. You need water, you need a fix, and you have no tools. Take your car to the franchise loaded with dull mechanics collecting the next paycheck? Or take it to the warlock in the dark alley who not just fills your radiator, but communes with your engine? Richard Thomas is that warlock, who not only pulls aside the curtain on some of the magical aspects of writing and gives you an understanding of the craft you can apply immediately, but he loads up your car and brain with a dozen tools that leave your mind spinning and your creativity in high gear. Whether through learning new tools, dissecting and analyzing new techniques, reading his columns, or his providing inspiration through unique story selections, this workshop is nuclear energy for creativity and craft. New writers often feel trepidation or overconfidence when in uncharted waters, and Richard’s lessons constantly surprise and engage, while at the same time encourage chances and risks along the journey. From flash fiction to short stories to novels, from novice to intermediate, Richard’s classes provide a lighthouse in a dark storm for writers who want to up their game and get published. This gave my writing career a nitro boost and an overloaded toolbox for the road ahead.”—Ian V.

“An intensive and deep study of modern dark fiction, including neo-noir, new weird, transgressive and contemporary horror. Highly recommended.”—Matthew B.

“Having taken a number of classes with Richard, I found his manner of teaching allowed for a safe environment, where students could tap into their creative process immediately, whether they were beginners, of an intermediate-level, or accomplished. Richard’s classroom is absolutely refreshing, and worthy of the trust necessary in becoming a successful storyteller. His Contemporary Dark Fiction class offers an MFA-level experience that cannot be found just anywhere outside of university, if at all. He may just be the only writing teacher out there who is this accessible. If you’re looking to become a great storyteller, then please don’t miss out.”—Neil S.

COST/FINANCING:

$1,200, via Paypal or check. $100 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. If you pay in full at the time of your deposit, take 10% off ($1,080). If you are a returning student (from any class, anywhere) take an additional 10% off ($960). Otherwise, it’s $100 upon registration, and half of the remaining balance due before class starts, and the remaining half due prior to the start of the second month. Paperback copies of The New Black and Exigencies are included with your fees, as well as PDFs of After the People Lights Have Gone Off and The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers) for short story analysis. You are required to purchase the other four novels (or feel free to check them out at your local library) for extended discussion.

SESSIONS:

January 1 – April 30, 2017 Session One FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2017 Session Two FULL
September 1 – December 31, 2017 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2018 FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2018 Session Two OPEN

Drop me a note at richardgamut@gmail.com to register, or if you have any questions. Thanks!

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I’m Teaching Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror & Beyond—ONLINE

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I’m teaching a six-week class, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror & Beyond, over at Story Studio Chicago (online) this October. Come join the fun. Here’s more information:

Description of Class

If you love the incredible, futuristic, supernatural, and fantastical—this is the class for you.

Whether you’re working on a project or just starting out, this six-week online course is perfect for writers who want to explore science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related sub-genres such as magical realism, new weird, and surrealism. We’ll discuss the conventions of these genres and explore the boundaries between them—and what happens when you cross them.

Students will explore craft elements such as character and setting, and how they operate in stories that challenge the imagination. You’ll practice creating alternate realities that may have a hint of magic, explore a dystopia or utopia, or even build an entirely new world.

We’ll read and study classic and contemporary examples by authors in various genres to learn what works, and explore the publishing world of speculative markets such as Cemetery Dance, Tor.com, Nightmare, Shimmer, F&SF, and Clarkesworld.

The class is perfect for writers who are curious about these genres, or writers who are already familiar with them and want to stretch the boundaries of their stories. Students will leave the class with new story starts and scenes, and share their work for feedback from the instructor and fellow writers.

What to Expect

Students can expect to spend two to three hours per week writing and interacting with classmates and the instructor. New lessons become available each Tuesday but can be completed anytime during the week.

This work will be supported by:

  • a weekly video from the instructor introducing the topic
  • an interactive lesson, moderated by the instructor
  • new exercises and materials available every week
  • full participation from every student to give and get feedback
  • email for one-to-one interaction with the instructor

Students will begin the week with a lesson containing reading and discussion materials, along with specific exercises to reinforce craft elements. No long lectures or text. Just the important points and fun, imaginative exercises.

During the week, students will post their work and comment on the work of the other participants. The instructor will also provide feedback on the exercises.

The only requirement is a reliable internet connection!

Gamut Magazine: What’s This Website All About?

Gamut Idea-001(Art by Luke Spooner)

“Now that short fiction has become as standardized as the SATs and Common Core—all in order to ‘judge’ and ‘rank’ writers—I’m excited to see what Richard Thomas brings to the game. Gamut will be the new magazine not written for the little old lady in Dubuque.”
—Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

Gamut will be cool, and it will be out there, right on the edges of fiction. I can’t wait.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

“As publishing venues grow ever more polarized—niche market over here,
stadium rock over there—the need for passionate, thoughtful, unafraid publishing
space is crucial. Enter Gamut.”
—Marcus Sakey, author of Brilliance

“I beg to differ with Mr. Palahniuk: There’s a fabulous indie bookstore in Dubuque, and little old ladies have been known to write some astonishing speculative fiction. Some of it might even end up in this magazine, which promises to bring together the fresh and the dark and the extraordinary. Look for great, weird things from [Gamut].”
—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Hundred-Year House

“A killer lineup of creators.”
—Rose O’Keefe, Publisher, Eraserhead Press

“The heavyweight talent behind Gamut is a promise of great things to come.”
—K. Allen Wood, Publisher, Shock Totem Publications

“It doesn’t matter if a writer has a big name, a pen name, or no name, if they’re writing excellent and edgy fiction, Richard Thomas has probably read their work. But Richard’s a busy guy—seriously, read his bio—and doesn’t have time to meet for coffee or martinis or bowling anytime someone wants to talk about what they should be reading next. Thankfully, now there is Gamut, which is sure to become an index of some of the best fiction writers working today.”
—Diane Goettel, Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press

GAMUT (Updated 1/29/2016)

So what’s all of this talk about Gamut? For a long time I’ve wanted to start a magazine. I crunched the numbers for years, but in the end couldn’t make it work. Why? PRINT COSTS. So, over the past year I’ve been looking at it again, and decided the way to go would be to Kickstart it, and have it exist online. I hope to do the Kickstarter in February of 2016, and launch the website on 1/1/2017, if we are successful. For the past several months I’ve been getting things lined up—authors, website, costs, content, the Kickstarter page, etc. We will offer subscriptions via the special Kickstarter for $25-30, with the regular annual price being $50-60. That’s only $5 a month, at the most expensive price point. (Gamut just means a wide range, and it’s usually applied to emotions, but here, it refers to fiction, and more specifically, dark fiction.)

CONTENT

It will include mostly fiction (some original, some reprints) but also columns, non-fiction, art, and maybe even a serial memoir or novella. I have a word count per month in mind, based on my budget, and I’m looking to release new content several times a week. I will start off by publishing work via solicitations and will then open it up to submissions. We will pay 10 cents per word for original fiction, and 3 cents per word for reprints.

GENRES

Well, if you’ve read any of the anthologies I’ve edited (The New Black, Burnt Tongues, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, or Exigencies) then you know what my aesthetic is, for sure. Also, you can see the work (and authors) I’ve published at Dark House Press. And of course, my own writing (and YES, I will be publishing some of my own work at Gamut as well, new and reprint). So I’m open to fantasy, science fiction, horror, neo-noir, crime, magical realism, transgressive, Southern gothic, and literary—anything done with innovation, heart and emotion. Everything I enjoy reading and writing typically leans toward the dark side, but I have been known to embrace lighter work, and humor, now and then. It just has to MOVE me. And I like to be surprised.

AUTHORS

To date, here are the people that have given me a verbal commitment to publish original and/or reprint fiction at Gamut: Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel. Poets will include Jeffrey Skinner, Nickole Brown, Cate Marvin, Paul Guest, Blas Falconer, Carrie Jerrell, Gary Jackson, Erica Dawson, Laura Van Prooyen, Simone Muench, Charles Jensen, Ace Boggess, and Jeannine Hall Gailey.

ART

I’ve asked the following artists to be a part of Gamut: Luke Spooner, George C. Cotronis, Daniele Serra, and Bob Crum, as well as photographer Jennifer Moore.

COLUMNISTS

As of right now, I’m excited to have non-fiction, reviews and commentary from Keith Rawson, Max Booth, and RK Arceneaux.

POETRY

Even though poetry is not my strength, I want there to be a place for it at Gamut, so I’m putting Heather Foster (one of my favorite poets) in charge. She’ll be assisted by Whittney Jones.

STAFF

Speaking of which, Dino Parenti, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Casey Frechette are going to be my fiction editors, and first readers. They all understand my aesthetic and are excellent writers as well. They’re really going to help shape the voice and look of Gamut.

IN CONCLUSION

I’m sure this doesn’t answer all of your questions, some things are still being ironed out, but I’m very excited to see if we can make this work. I love Tor, as well as Nightmare, Shimmer, Apex, Clarkesworld, Black Static, Shock Totem, Cemetery Dance and so many other publications. I hope that Gamut can become a part of the landscape and continue to provide opportunities for authors to share their work, get paid a decent rate, and maybe even get discovered. There is no shortage of talent out there, I can tell you that much. Thanks for reading, and wish us luck! I hope you’ll be a part of this.

The Pushcarts, Luna Park Review and Online Publishing

When I first read the article by Travis Kurowksi at Luna Park Review, I thought to myself, well, that’s not going to change any time soon. Then I realized that I had a story nominated by Metazen (an online publication) for my story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave,” and suddenly I was outraged. Typical, yeah? The more I sat with the information the more I wondered why the Pushcarts, an organization that I thought was at the cutting edge of publishing, founded by many edgy, ahead of their time authors, would turn away from writing that was online? Why does the means of delivery lessen the quality of the writing? (HINT: It doesn’t). I hope that the Pushcarts are paying attention and don’t limit their nominations to those that are at established print journals, even though they are small. There are plenty of small websites and online journals that have talented authors gracing their pages.

My story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” is now live at Metazen

My story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” is now LIVE at Metazen. I really like what these guys are doing. They publish one new story a day, and on Friday, August 5th, I was up. Great group of writers publishing here, honored to be a part of it. This story was a bit different than what I usually do, built on on idea, one phrase that starts off “Because…” which in my head, was the voice of the protagonist answering the accusations towards him: “Why do you stay with her?” or “Why don’t you leave?” or “Why is she so screwed up?” or “Why do you still help her?”

Dueling Columns 2 – Print vs. Online

Print or Online?

Print or Online?

Print vs. Online – The great debate

So Larina and I are once again at it. We’re going to try to be a little more regular about this, but things got in the way in the past month – birth, death, work, alcohol, nudity, football, kids, and beef jerky. Not necessarily in that order.

Take a gander at my thoughts here, speak up, add something to the conversation if you want to, and then see what she has to say over here Larina Print vs. Online

I am taking the online side of this debate. SO…let the games begin.

STIGMA NO LONGER

It used to be that publishing your fiction online was frowned upon. But things have changed. For many reasons, online publishing has gotten better, has expanded its audience, and in the process, has eliminated much of the stink. It has changed, for the better. And I’m pretty excited about it.

Here are some reasons why online fiction has blown up.

1. COST: Many print journals, whether at universities or independent presses, have decided to change to online publishing only. The recession has hit everyone and it is much more affordable to post up short stories and host it online, even if you spend money designing a really cool site. There are also many FREE or cheap sites out there, such as WordPress.com. Print costs, postage, and declining readerships have forced many publications to move online.

2. EXTENSIONS: Many respectable presses, journals and magazines have added an online aspect to what they already do in print. The New Yorker has been publishing fiction online for a long time now. Dzanc just rolled out The Collagist, a new web presence to add to its already compelling Monkeybicycle, Dzanc Books, OV Books and Black Lawrence Press. It’s happening all the time now. And that lends an air of credibility. When a publication that already wins awards, publishes the authors you love, and generally does good work decides to move online, why wouldn’t you trust that their online work would be just as good? I haven’t seen any drop off in the writing.

3. EYES: There are many reasons for publishing online, but getting new people to read your work, and getting a LOT of people to read it, is one. I recently had a story posted up at Troubadour 21 and it has over 200 hits, as we speak. Now, I doubt that all of those are unique visitors, and I promise that I did not click that link 199 times, but even if HALF of those people reading my work are new to me, I’m very happy with that. Most of us are not novelists, nor do we make a living as writers. We are not selling a million copies of our books. Yet. So for now, we have to take what we can get. You could publish in a print journal, and maybe 100 people would pick it up, maybe a couple hundred, but with the internet, there is always the possibility or more, an ENDLESS number of people that could read your work. And it’ll never go out of print.

4. IMMEDIACY: You run into somebody on the street, you chat somebody up at AWP, or a reading, or run into an ex-girlfriend at the grocery store. Honest, it was a coincidence. I don’t personally carry around copies of my work. And I wouldn’t, even if I HAD twenty copies of Gold Dust or Vain or the upcoming Shivers VI from Cemetery Dance. Not to mention the cost involved with that. BUT, I do carry around business cards with my blog on it, and my contact information. I can refer people to this blog, and subsequently, to my online fiction. I can post up in forums. I can Facebook you to death, Tweet in your ear until it bleeds. The point being, I can get you to my work, NOW. If you want to go there. If my work were ONLY in print, that would be much harder. Publishing online is a good alternative, a way of showcasing your work, and as fast and easy as a mouse click. I’ve had agents and editors read my work online and ask for a story or full manuscript before. It can be a great resource.

5. QUALITY: Like any book you pick up in a bookstore or at the library, the quality will vary. There are certainly terrible websites out there with weak writing. Just like there are published books that are empty and vague. Places like The New Yorker, The Missouri Review, The Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic, we all know those are great places to publish. But what about the lesser known journals and magazines? The overall quality of online fiction has really improved. All you have to do is chase down your favorite authors, and see what they are publishing online. You’ll see that many established, as well as emerging authors, are publishing online now. Take the following sentence and fill in the blanks. It is your new mantra.

If _______________ is good enough for _______________, it’s good enough for me.

Maybe those publications are Juked, Hobart, Flatmancrooked, Dogzplot, Keyhole, Opium, Dogmatika, Word Riot, 3:AM, Nerve, The Rumpus, elimae, FRiGG, Pank, mud luscious or SmokeLong Quarterly.

Maybe those authors are Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Blake Butler, Steve Almond, Benjamin Percy, Amelia Gray, Roy Kesey, Joe Meno, Matt Bell, Holly Goddard Jones, Stephen Elliott or Mary Miller.

6. TECHNOLOGY: These days, we are a digital society. We are fast and furious in everything we do. We update our Facebook status, we Tweet, we build our profiles on a million forums, we blog. So it only makes sense that we publish online, that we download podcasts and ebooks. Printed books and printed magazines or journals will probably not go away. Ever. BUT…there is a demand for everything, now, in my mouth, give it to me, stick it in. Why should that be any different with our fiction? Don’t get me wrong, one of the simple pleasures in life is holding a book, be it a paperback, or a hefty novel bound in leather. I like it. I like to touch it. To hold it. But I also find myself with down time at work, a spare moment in a coffehouse or stuck at an airport with my laptop. And I’ve read so many great stories while I’ve waited. I’ve tracked down my favorite authors, such as the latest George Saunders at TNY. I’ve run across a new voice, and Googled that name after reading ONE compelling story, only to fine more online, and then a collection of shorts for sale, bought it, and attended a reading in my city. It’s all connected, and it can be very exciting.

DO IT

As a reader, somebody who enjoys good fiction wherever you can find it, you wouldn’t be here at my blog if you didn’t agree with me to a certain degree. You ARE online, aren’t you? And while this isn’t FICTION, there are tons of stories over there under my Table of Contents, under the Short Story section, as well as links to other authors and their work, and some fantastic presses and online journals. So go read. Check it out. Have fun.

To the writers – don’t be afraid. If you’re such a good writer, go out and write more. And put it online. Write to a theme issue, write to a particular aesthetic, stretch yourself. Make us laugh so hard we piss our pants. Make us gag. Make us a little bit horny. Make us tear up a bit. Maybe even touch a nerve. Write a horror story or an erotic tale, dabble in noir, or the surreal, write a fairy tale, or serialize your novella. But get your work out there. I think that’s one of the best things about putting your work online. It’s OUT THERE. For people to enjoy. You can’t get discovered if people can’t find your work.