I’m officially announcing a new writing goal — to enter the Writers of the Future contest every quarter, beginning with the most recent one, until I either win or pro out.
To this end, I have two immediate goals. The first is to actually write a short story this month, since the current quarter ends on June 30. The second is to read every story in the five most recent Writers of the Future volumes.
The writing is the easy part for me. What’s always been difficult is reading short fiction in anthologies and magazines. That makes sense, though, when you think about it. By their very nature, anthologies and magazines offer stories by a variety of authors, and about the only thing these stories have in common is the fact they were selected by a particular editor for a particular venue. There’s a lot of room for a lot of different kinds of story, some of which won’t be to my taste. Which means … I always feel like I’m cheating when I start skipping more than two or three stories I don’t like. So in generally, I stick to collections by favorite short story writers: Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King, and Orson Scott Card, just to name a few. I don’t necessarily like everything these writers have written, but I like almost every story in their collections.
But I’m going to force myself to read and analyze every story in the most recent WOTF volumes. Those I love, I’ll enjoy and then analyze, and those I don’t like, I’ll try to figure out what it is I don’t like. Not what the writers did wrong. Because they did nothing wrong. They won the contest, by gum. But knowing what I don’t like about a story can help me understand what I do like … and, consequently, help me understand how to be a better writer.