Featured market: The Reader Berlin and EXBERLINER short story contest Reply

This week’s featured market is an amazing opportunity all the way from Berlin. Don’t worry – you needn’t write in German. This is strictly for English-language stories of 1500-3500 words. The theme is “A Summer Night” and you have until midnight (CET) on May 31st. Best of all, it’s completely free to enter and there are some amazing prizes: first place wins publication in the summer print edition of EXBERLINER, €100, and a goodie bag. Two runners up will each receive publication on the EXBERLINER website, €50, and a goodie bag. And ten finalists will have their stories featured on The Reader Berlin showcase, and have the opportunity to perform their work live at a Reader Sunday Salon event in autumn. Please see here for full rules and submission details. Good luck!

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Zadie Smith’s ON BEAUTY: telling the story through sensory detail Reply

In this video we look at two descriptions of the same place, which appear at different stages of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. Although the place is the same, Smith is able to advance the story just by changing the sensory details on which she and her characters focus. Being able to do this, to show rather than tell, to use concrete description as an essential part of the story rather than a background, is central to how most writers work. But do remember that mimesis is not the only way to tell the story: there are many alternatives to the cinematic mode of narration.

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Creative Writers, free yourselves! Alternatives to the cinematic mode of narration (tip 62) 4

In the beginning, cinema took its inspiration from older forms of narrative including literature. But even in the 19th-century, realist writers were comparing their work to photography, and during the 20th-century many prose authors, including Wyndham Lewis and Christopher Isherwood, took inspiration from film. Published in 1960, John Updike’s present-tense novel Rabbit, Run was subtitled originally, “A Movie”, and he was explicit that “The present tense was in part meant to be an equivalent of the cinematic mode of narration.” From what I’ve seen, the cinematic mode of narration often dominates Creative Writing classrooms. But what is it? What are its limitations? And what are our alternatives?

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Balancing interior & empirical experience (tip 61) Reply

Some writers can become trapped in their protagonist’s minds. Everything is heavily filtered through the protagonist’s consciousness, to the extent that we can lose our bearings in the external world. In this video, we consider how JM Coetzee finds the right balance between interior and empirical experience.

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