Ladies and gentlemen, Marcy Arlin's devilish little gem of a story, Teaching Your Demon Lover to Cha Cha, is freshly published at Daily Science Fiction! Read it, laugh, blush, then tell your friends.
Evan Berkow's "The Lone Star Sin Eaters," has been published in Strange Horizons, a prominent spec-fic web magazine. It's really something when hard work and talent is recognized and paid for!
Everyone in BSFW should go read Evan's story because it's excellent. We should also spread the good word. Word of mouth is the best advertising, so please copy the hyperlink to Evan's story and post it on your personal page, your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or wherever reading people tend to congregate. Give your thoughts on the story. This is one of the more tangible ways that writers can support each other and pay it forward. BSFW is meant to be a shared platform as well as a place to get your stories critiqued. With 240 plus members, shared audience equals shared success. Somewhere in the cloud of friends and friends of friends are new fans, agents, and publishing connections. If each one of us does this, the increase in readership will be exponential.
Find him on Twitter @Evan_Berkow
Obviously, I am a big fan of writing critiques and writing workshops. I have witnessed talented writers bring a draft with deep underlying problems to a meeting, take it through our critique process filled with insights, questions, real conversation, and come out the other end with all the pieces they need to write a story that works. BSFW is very good at that.
But, there are pitfalls that I think a good critic should be careful of. For instance, it's very easy to get stuck in the rules. By that I mean, focusing on what you think the writer should do. Francine Prose, author of "Reading Like a Writer," among other excellent works, says this:
"I suggested to...a student that what made her story so confusing was the multiple shifts in point of view. It's only a five-page short story, I said. Not Rashomon. "
At some point or another, we've all had this conversation in critique sessions about point of view. A writer brings in a piece that's made confusing because of shifting or unknown narrators. Maybe it's just that the author isn't sure which one works better for her story. Simplifying the story is definitely one way to go. But, Francine Prose ran into a problem after giving that very advice.
And that afternoon I read Chekhov's '"Gusev,"' which concerns a sailor who dies at sea. The story begins in the sailor's point of view...the perspective shifts to that of the sailors burying him at sea...pilot fish who see the body fall...the shark who investigates...the eyes of God."
Rather than tell, I'll just show...
Good God, that's beautiful. Writing like this must give one pause in giving a critique. Certainly, we do our best to make sure that some basic tenets of readability are achieved through our critiques, but beyond that consider what the writer is aiming at and help them achieve their very unique vision rather than simplifying the story, which can inadvertently drain the story of its power. We may have to assist in a kind of writers jail break. It helps to find examples of how another writer has achieved success with a similar problem by rereading the classics by the masters. Chekhov is a good start.