The titular panel was the fourth of the Imaginarium 2021 panels I was able to attend. The panelists were Jen Selinsky, Robert Krog, Brick Marli, Molly Daniels, and the moderator was Drew Gaber.
The panel description was direct and to the point: A discussion on tips, steps, and guidelines to follow when writing for an anthology.
These tips are for all of you out there – those already submitting short stories, writers thinking of exploring new genres, or even those of you who are just contemplating getting into writing. But, beware — for some of us, it’s easier to write a novel than it is to write a short story.
The biggest take-away when writing for anthologies is to know that the editors are looking for a lot of variety and that it’s often easiest to sell if you can write the story for the story call, finding the right market for a story you’ve written can be a challenge.
How Should One Pace A Short Story?
Pacing is very different for short stories than it is for novels. While some novels have chapters that read like short stories, those often tend to be episodic stories at best. The greatest challenge for short story writers is to edit and trim without losing voice. So how does one pace a short story?
- Fast and brief
- Focus on one particular plot point
- One point-of-view
- Characterization should be as concise as possible without letting the story stuffer
- The ending should have a punch — if there isn’t an ending, you’ve written a chapter of a longer story, not a short story.
Do Short Stories Need To Be Plotted?
Ah, the eternal question — which is better? Plotting or Pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants — aka discovery writing).
Sadly, there is no definitive answer — it depends on the writer and the story.
Do note, being brief is a skill, and cutting stories to be short without losing voice, an
What is the preferred flow for an anthology?
Different types of anthologies work in different ways, but they follow similar formats.
Some more historical or time-jumping anthologies end up being simply in story-chronological order.
Some anthologies are put out by writing groups, and simply rotate who has the opening story.
For many anthologies, though, the first story is the strongest story, the last is the second strongest. And the ones in between rotate through quieter stories and action heavy intensity. Like creating a good music album, the balance and rise and fall helps each story shine to its greatest potential.
What Draws Readers To Anthologies?
- Short stories are easier to fit into a busy day
- The pacing of short stories – few tangents and pithy stories
- And? To encourage new writers
Where To Find Markets
One final tip I’d already taken note of? If you’re writing to the anthology description, never go with your first thought — it’s often what everyone else is going to write. Go for your third or fourth idea. And good luck!