Short Fiction: The Week in Review, I

January 1st – 13th

Curated by Rupert Dastur


The Short Fiction Desk are open to submissions for their short story anthologies. There’s a small reading fee (£3), but they’re flexible on length (1,000 – 20,000), and offer a quick turn-around. If you buy an anthology there’s no reading fee. Like many editors, they don’t like writing that’s about writing. It’s something we generally agree with. Here’s what tey say in full:

“One other thing to note is that we’re looking for stories about people and places, rather than about writing itself. If the most important thing about your story is its quirky narrative technique, or if the character is a writer who’s writing about the challenges of writing a short story about the challenges of being a writer, then it may not be for us.”


A new short story competition has been launched: Philosophy Through Fiction. This looks pretty fantastic, not to mention interesting. Word count 1,000 – 7,500. Plus a synopsis type thing. Here’s what they say:

“Short stories that are eligible for this competition must be some form of speculative fiction (this includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternative history, or magical realism), and must explore one or more philosophical ideas. These can be implicit; there is no restriction on which philosophical ideas you explore.”


Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook Short Story Competition, in association with Arvon. NO FEE which is pretty fantastic. More form their website:

“To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words. And that’s it. Unlike previous years, there’s no theme for you to base your story on; all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website, the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2017’ and you send it to”


From The Irish Times: In praise of short fiction: a tribute to Maeve Brennan. 

This is really worth a read for short fiction fans. Writer Edwin Higel champions the short story form, offering insightful opinion and humour. One of our favourite bits:

“The best short stories leave the reader with more questions than answers; short fiction in its various forms is, ideally, a structured set of triggers that set off the reader’s imagination. Its full impact can only be assessed when his or her response is included.”


This is from a few years back, but makes for great reading. An interview by the incomparable The Paris Review with Joy Williams.

“What a story is, is devious. It pretends transparency, forthrightness. It engages with ordinary people, ordinary matters, recognizable stuff. But this is all a masquerade. What good stories deal with is the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the dark encroachment of old catastrophes—which is Wallace Stevens, I think. As a form, the short story is hardly divine, though all excellent art has its mystery, its spiritual rhythm.”


While we’re on interviews, if you missed this superb piece with K.J Orr over on the mighty THRESHOLDS Forum, stop what you’re doing and click on the link below. The lovely author of The Light Box gives some wonderful thoughts on the short story.

“I don’t generally set out with a conscious theme in mind when I write a story. I think this is something that would emerge organically. In terms of human connection: well this is a vast and rich territory for any writer… how humans connect, how we please and fail each other, how baffling and mysterious our connections can be, how much clearer our interactions can seem in retrospective interpretation, and how muddy as we are living through them.”


Free short story ‘;Disappearance’ – on the obliging Guardian and penned by K. J. Orr whose interview you’ve hopefully had a look through.

“People speak of the shock of retirement. They warn of the possibility of profound depression. However, this is not something I expect for myself. The life I have built here over the years keeps me more than occupied, regardless of work. And so it comes as a surprise to me – this nervous and shifty feeling on waking. It is as if I can only sidle up to the day, like a neurotic suitor.”


Granta are accepting submissions! The place to be. As competitive as can be, but worth a shot. Here are some of the details – deadline in 16th February, there’s no maximum length but most submissions are between 3,000 and 6,000 words. More details by following the link below:


TSS. Now, back to interviews! We published out first 2017 interview earlier this week. Katy Wimhurst spoke to Rebecca Lloyd about her work on the short form.

“What appeals to me about writing short stories is that I find it more challenging than writing novels. Although you need endurance for novel writing, it doesn’t pull at the same mental muscles. The short story form is like a heavy-duty working rubber band compared to the novel which (to me) more resembles a piece of gentle elastic.”


Over on WritersWrite, a South African website promoting fiction, Writer Mia Botha offers ten reasons to be writing short stories. Our favourite? Number nine: you can experiment.


The exiting announcement that the Edge Hill Short Story Prize is open for entries (please note this is for published collections, not individual short stories). The lovely Jessie Greengrass won this last year with her formidable debut The Decline of the Great Auk (if you’ve not read it, we really recommend it). This is such a fantastic prize and so positive for short fiction.


Over on Almond Press, Zed Amadeo explores five tips for submitting short stories. We’re not sure who the author of the piece is, but if you’re at the beginning of your writing journey there are some useful thoughts on the matter – plus the positive message that perseverance is key and as such our favourite tip here is the last: ‘Am I keeping my options open?’


Finally, a few things on TSS.

We’ve got a review of Alice Kaltman’s shot story collection Staggerwing. The reviewer Alex Reece Abbott writes that there is something ‘deliciously engaging and gossipy’ about these short stories.

Full review here:


Lastly, we recently published our 4th place short story winner, Sarah Isaac. Her short story ‘Escargot Africans’ can be read in full by following the link below.

“Snails are hermaphrodites. They are indiscriminate. Their mating process is prolonged, an excretion of mucus followed by hours of foreplay, the ribbing along their bodies convulsing in peristaltic rhythms. They can each insert their penis into the other’s vagina simultaneously. The thought of it makes my heart thump and take momentary pause.”


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