In the run up to this year’s Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Competition, we’re doing a series of posts on short fiction. Previous videos have looked at beginning a short story. Today, D.D. Johnston begins to reflect on the importance of endings, and why short stories are like jokes.
We hope you’ve all had a happy new year and that 2018 is treating you well. 2018 could be a prosperous year, for you have the chance to win the richest literary prize currently offered anywhere on this website.
Yes, the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize is back for 2018, and the deadline has just been announced as midnight on May 31st (GMT). It’s free to enter and international entrants are welcome. There’s no theme, but to get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the winning story from 2016 and the winning story from 2017. In 2018, first prize will again be a sumptuous £100, with £50 for second place, and £25 for third. All the submission information is available here – good luck!
In this video, D.D. Johnston discusses a classroom exercise that he uses to illustrate an important difference between short stories and novels.
Following on from our last video, D.D. Johnston looks at the opening to a modern classic short story: “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri. You can read the full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/lahiri-maladies.html
Professor Max Ludlow has been losing hair for some time, and not being a person oblivious to style —unlike some of his colleagues who groomed their remaining strands into a semblance of a youthful do—he has begun to shave his head. This gives Ludlow a clean, meditative look, cosmopolitan and ageless—his grey hairs now nearly invisible—but it also exposes a star-shaped scar over his right ear, of which he is self-conscious. Or perhaps more accurately, of which he is self-aware—that is, not embarrassed, but cognizant that it is there, though he can only see it when looking in a mirror and turning his head to the left.
When he does see the scar, he often thinks how much it resembles an asterisk, which makes him imagine that in his head is a thought and that the scar is marking an informal footnote, offering a caveat or explanation, there at the bottom of the page—or, in this case, literally at his feet. Sometimes he even glances down at his toes when he thinks this, to see if an explanation might be there. But of course there is never any explanatory note, which he always feels is unfortunate.