Hello everyone! Today I am very excited to welcome Jo Myles here to the blog to talk to us about the new Lashings of Sauce anthology. Welcome Jo!
Hi there. Jo Myles here. As one of the organisers of this year’s UK Meet, I was heavily involved in putting together our promotional Lashings of Sauce anthology. I asked everyone to write stories in some way celebrating the diversity of GLBTQ life in Britain and Europe—a challenge for those writers from across the pond, but one they willingly embraced.
Short stories are a real passion of mine, so it’s been incredibly exciting to be involved in putting together an anthology with such talented authors. Here, some of the contributing authors share the most challenging and satisfying aspects to writing short fiction.
Some ideas really don’t need a full-length novel to come across. If you can make your characters quickly engaging, then it’s possible to explore a single situation or an intriguing twist in a satisfying way. I find that often a vivid key scene from a short story will stick with me as well as, or better than, an entire novel.
Most definitely the need to bring the reader into the story immediately, both for the setting and the characters. There’s often little luxury for describing backstory, so you have to draw people into the flow of the story, to join in without feeling lost.
When I started out in this writing gig, my output was exclusively short stories. It took me some time to work my way up to the longer stuff! I’ve grown to appreciate the multi-stranded nature of novel-length fiction, and the way even minor characters can have a satisfying story arc, but I still love the simplicity of short fiction. It’s great to be able to go straight from a to b without having to worry over-much about settings and ways of keeping your heroes apart for as long as possible!
It’s also very satisfying to be able to finish a story in quite a short time span – novels can stretch on for months with no end in sight.
Short stories suit me much more than novels do. I prefer writing character-focused fiction rather than plot-focused fiction, and I’m not a fan of romances. Short fiction is the ideal length for me to try and wrap a hook and an emotional reward into a neat package and tell a story about characters at a certain point in their lives, as they go from A to B with themselves or others.
Getting a believable story arc – and engaging characters the reader will like – into a couple of thousand words. Trying to turn out a story which is half as good as Saki’s “The Unrest Cure”.
I get over excited about being in the story world and want to spend longer in it than necessary. I have to remind myself that a short comedy of manners doesn’t really need a car chase and some amusing business with a bucket of white wash to make it readable.
Beating the story into shape once the first draft is finished: cutting out the sections which are bloating the tale into boring-ness, and shaping the story into something lean and (hopefully) lovely. That’s both challenging but also incredibly rewarding: you start off with “look what I made!” and end up with “look how much more awesome it is now!”
I like that keeping it short means I can’t get bogged down in too many details, and I can just focus on the two main characters as you often don’t have time for a lot of secondary characters. It’s a more tight view often that just goes right to the heart of it all. It also lets you see your results quickly, no labouring for months over a novel. I tend to be rather wordy though, so it’s always a challenge to stop while I’m ahead.
For me it’s a chance to experiment with form and subject. It’s also a challenge to put everything in a neat little package, because I tend to be a little longwinded.
In this case, I wrote a story that wouldn’t be considered m/m unless you squinted really hard.
It’s great to be able to reveal who a character is in a very short space of time, at least in terms of word length. I enjoy taking them on a journey and leaving them at the end in a place where they’ve developed or learnt something important about themselves. It’s odd how some stories fit perfectly into the short fiction form, while others are naturally longer, becoming novellas or novels – the key challenge is recognising the difference, and I think that’s something which comes with experience.
It was tough for me, because I’m naturally a long story writer, and love dealing with characters over a long period of time. I like to write about a resonant moment in a character’s life, but I like to see the context and what led up to it. So getting that context into a short story was a major challenge for me. Using the two different time periods allowed me to do that in a shorthand kind of way, so finding that solution and giving the characters a history within such a small space was very rewarding.
For me it’s the challenge of keeping within that pesky word count. Why use one word when ten will do?
And as for me? I love the intense focus on time and place that short stories force on me. There’s no room for waffle, and every word needs to count. It’s much simpler for me to write short than to write long, as I find I can hold everything in my head for a short, whereas novels require huge amounts of notes and tracking of subplots, and I keep forgetting what I’ve already written.
For me, the biggest challenge is always in persuading readers that short stories are worth parting with cash for!
The Lashings of Sauce anthology is a very special project, put together entirely from stories donated by authors attending the UK Meet this September. These generous and talented authors have agreed to forego any royalties in order to help fund next year’s UK Meet, helping to keep ticket costs affordable for everyone. If you enjoyed their stories, please show them your appreciation by buying something from their backlist.
Lashings of Sauce is now available from a selection of online retailers, in ebook and paperback:
Kindle US | Kindle UK | All Romance eBooks | JMS Books
Paperback Buy Links:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
Find out more about the anthology and the UK Meet authors at http://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/