Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

That Elusive Sparkle

I've read many books and magazine articles on writing short stories. I've also read and written a fair few short stories too. And the one enduring criticism that I've heard from the authors of these books/articles and from editors is that many of the stories they receive or read lack sparkle. They are missing that vital but elusive ingredient that makes them stand out from the rest, that makes them shine and resonate with readers.

We've all read stories that have have touched us in some way: made us laugh or cry or wonder why we didn't write it! But what was it about those stories, what elements had the author incorporated to make it connect with the reader? I haven't found it yet - well I have on a couple of occasions when my stories have been published, but if I were asked why I thought those stories were published but my others weren't, I'd be hard pushed to give you a definitive answer. I don't really know is the short answer and I'm sure, if you asked other short story writers out there the same question, they wouldn't always know either.

A story you have written might not feel like a publishable one to you but will be snapped up by an editor, yet stories you feel are sure winners are rejected! It does feel like a lottery sometimes and pot luck if your story gets published or not. I suppose, to a certain extent it is: one day an editor may have already accepted a story similar to yours and so yours gets rejected, but the next, a story you'd sent out months ago and given up hope for will suddenly appear in a magazine! You can never tell.

I'm hoping to find out more about that sparkle when Lynne Hackles comes to do a workshop at a local Literary Festival later this month (Wellington, Shropshire, on  the 15th October,) so I'll let you know if it becomes any clearer for me!

What would you say that sparkle is?

Happy writing

Julie xx


HelenMHunt said...

My latest article in Writing Magazine tries to address this one - complete with some lovely quotes from helpful fiction editors!

Julie P said...

Is it out yet, Helen? I'll have to read that!

Julie xx

HelenMHunt said...

It's the November issue. I have my subscriber's copy so I imagine it will be in the shops in the next few days.

Frances Garrood said...

My experience is similar to yours, Julie. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason as to which stories are accepted. I think much of it is a matter of balancing the content of magazines, and not using the same theme too often. I've read (and written!) some truly appalling published stories, and some of my stellar masterpieces have been turned down. We have to just keep plugging on...

Julie P said...

I subscribe too, helen, so I expect my copy will be in the post soon too (I hope!)

Julie xx

Julie P said...

It's frustrating, though, isn't it, Frances!But plugging on is the only way! Good luck.

Julie xx

susanjanejones said...

Hi Julie,
For me, that vital ingredient is the emotional moment when what the writer has been building up to happens. I haven't perfected that yet though, still trying, good luck with your writing, look forward to hearing how you go with Lynn. I've got her book writing from life which is brilliant and very funny.

Julie P said...

I'm sure we'll all get there in the end, Susan! But only if we keep going.

I'm looking forward to meeting Lynn as I only 'know' her virtually.

julie xx

womagwriter said...

It's great when you meet virtual friends for the first time in real life - enjoy the festival!

Julie P said...

I will, Womag.
I can't believe it's this Saturday!

Lynn is doing ghost writing in the morning and short stories in the afternoon session - so I'm hoping to glean some excellent advice, especially with the short stories.

Julie xx