fourth malice anthology – Carolyn

Sorry I missed my turn last Sunday. I was what my mother used to call low sick. I finally gave up and went to the doc in the box at Kroger to get some antibiotics. I try to avoid them, but occasionally needs must. I still have no stamina. I was actually ahead of schedule on writing the book that is due at Harlequin on July 1. Now, of course, I am behind again. Oh, well. I always say I work better under pressure, but occasionally I’d like the opportunity to try the way normal people do it—five or ten pages a day or a chapter or whatever. Just a schedule. Not gonna happen, this time, at any rate.

I am up to date with editing the Malice in Memphis stories. I could do them with less mind than it takes to write my own stuff. At this point I think we need to take a break. This will be our fourth anthology, although it will be the third published. The Memphis in May anthology is being held up so that it will come out for next year’s festival. This one about Elmwood cemetery is the perfect examplar of what happens which you give a bunch of writers a shove, but do not limit their creativity. The stories range from civil war times to contemporary, and from ghosts to murder. I do enjoy editing them, although I’m not always certain I am pushy enough. I believe that it is important to preserve the writer’s voice. Certainly easy to see in a group of short stories by different authors. Several of our people write funny. Several write downright scary. And everything in between.

Short stories generally need a kicker at the end—that little twist. Done well, the kicker is patently obvious, except that the reader doesn’t pick up on it until he is supposed to get it at the very end. It is important to establish the sense of place quickly, and the atmosphere. But what is not important is to tell the reader what you know that he may not need to. This is known as an information dump. Don’t. Your reader does not care one whit how much you know about the history, or the layout, or anything else unless it is germaine to your story right that moment. In a place like Elmwood that has so much history, the temptation to give out interesting facts is great. Don’t. Keep your reader right there and then, and when he is comfortable, knock him out of his comfort zone. Then you’ll probably have a good story. Our newest anthology is going to have some doozies.

 

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