Sunday, December 12, 2010

New On The Premises Comment and contest

Magazine "" has two contests every so often-I forget how often.  A full length contest and a mini-contest. The one mentioned at the end of the comment is a mini-contest.  In the Newsletter they always include a short writing tip and I have permission to post from the Newsletter.


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1) How Would You Feel if...

...if we had a special OTP issue someday that didn't have a premise? An "anything goes" issue where we asked you to send us your best unpublished story? We're tempted, but we're worried that for one issue, we'd be just like every other magazine. Plus we might get flooded with more entries than we can handle. We'll consider it, though, if enough people like the idea. If you have an opinion, please send it

2) Don't Be That Story! Part 2

Last month we introduced the idea of certain kinds of stories that drive us crazy and are always rejected. This month we discuss the "No Way!" story. These introduce critical story ideas in a way that we, as readers, just can't accept.
Any idea, no matter how crazy it is, will work if you integrate it well. Let's say a story starts like this:
One day, gravity stopped working, and everything that wasn't firmly secured to the Earth floated off into space.
I'll accept that idea because it's the story's opening line. It doesn't contradict anything the story has already said or implied. And since the story just started, I can't complain that the author hasn't thought the idea through, because I'm guessing the rest of the story handles that.
But imagine reading a story that seems to be set in the real world. It's about some high school kid with a crush on his math teacher, and there's a sub-plot involving a lost dog. Several pages in, the math teacher, who is helping the kid look for the dog, suddenly says, "I hope the dog didn't float away last week when gravity stopped working."
You can almost hear the story being slapped onto the rejection pile.
You might think no decent writer would integrate a critical idea so clumsily, but we've seen the "No Way!" problem in stories that were otherwise good enough to send to the prize judges. Here are three examples of the "No Way!" problem that are, we swear, no crazier than what we've seen in real contest entries. In otherwise well-written stories...
a) A nice, peaceful character gets harassed one time too many, and overnight, becomes a serial killer who's going to "show them all."
b) Just blocks from the White House (in today's real world), a car bomb blasts a limousine into a million pieces that fly hundreds of feet into the air. No police investigate and the incident never appears on the news.
c) After reading one book on computer hacking, a novice uses an ordinary laptop to break into the NORAD computer systems and throw the world into nuclear panic.
So, authors: please think carefully about your story ideas. Do they pass the "No Way!" test? Don't be that story!

3) Mini-Contest #13

You may not know it by its official name, but you've probably heard of the "dark and stormy night" contest where you submit the worst ever opening line of a novel (the Bulwer-Lytton contest). Since bad openings have been covered, let's talk about bad endings.
In 25 to 75 words, write the worst ending to a short story imaginable. The bad ending, by itself, has to evoke what the rest of the story was about or it might not seem so bad. (Plus it won't seem like an ending.)
One entry per author.
* We will disqualify all variations on "And then I woke up" because they're too easy!* We'll also notify you within 72 hours if we disqualify your entry for breaking this rule, and we'll give you a chance to submit something else as long as you get your entry to us by December 27.

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