2017 short story competition now open!

Calling all writers, it’s time to start thinking about those winning words you know you can put together. Our 2017 short story competition has just opened and you have until November 30th to create and polish you entries, which for the first time we are accepting by email. If you don’t enter you won’t win. Simple really. So get writing and do look at our competition page for more information and to download the entry form. Good luck.

We are now accepting flash fiction

Good news for those of you who write very short fiction. Rachel and I are now accepting flash fiction between 200 and 500 words. We plan to publish these on our on-line issues only so there’s some time before they’ll appear. But don’t let that stop you honing your skills in minimalism. Check our submissions page for full details and get writing!

Short stories selected for August issue

Rachel and I have just finished making our selections for the August issue of takahe. Thanks to everyone who submitted. There were a large number of stories to choose from, and we could only take 12. Many of the pieces we didn’t accept had a great deal of merit such as an interesting theme, an intriguing plot or great characters. But in several cases, we rejected a potentially good story because it was overwritten. By this I mean the addition of words, sentences or even paragraphs that the story didn’t need. Often the less said the more powerful the writing.

We do hope that those of you who are short fiction writers continue to submit to our magazine. If you don’t already belong to a writing or critique group I would recommend that you find one to join. Almost all stories, even those written by experienced writers, can be improved by taking judicious notice of readers’ comments.

Our next issue is an on-line only issue due out in August when you will be able to read the stories we have chosen for you. Do let us know if there any you particularly like.’

Congratulations to Rachel

Great news: on Thursday, Rachel Smith, our talented fiction co-editor, won second place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition for her story ‘When Winter Comes’. Judge Emma Neale describes it as ‘admirably spare prose with cool drops of simile’. Hm. I like that. Spare prose, simile only in cool drops. Writers, note both of those observations, and a big congratulations to Rachel.

Personal Experience and Fiction

I was critiquing a story and suggested to the writer that the ending didn’t work.

‘But that really happened,’ she said. I replied that real events don’t always – or even often – make good fiction. When talking to friends about what’s been going on in our lives we tend to frame things in a particular way, embellish this, exaggerate that, so as to add interest to what we’re saying.

This is even more important when creating fiction. We might start from personal experience but we craft a piece as we write it, we wrap it in meaning, we add structure and significance.

Writers of fiction also produce works that have no basis in their own lives. But for these to work there has to be a connection between the writer and the work: the story expresses an emotion the writer feels or once felt.

Some of the short stories in takahe 86 (the April 2016 issue) are clearly based on personal experience. Some less so or not at all. Either way I hope you enjoy them.