Posts Tagged: prize

Interview with 2014 1/2 K Prize Judge: Carol Guess

The August 15 deadline for submissions to the 2014 1/2 K Prize is fast approaching. We know this is equal parts exciting and terrifying, so please try to remember to breathe.

In the meantime, check out this interview with our current 1/2 K Prize judge Carol Guess.

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Carol is a professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Western Washington University, but as novelist and poet herself, she understands the plight of the struggling author in a fiercely competitive publishing world. You can find her excellent piece, co-written with Kelly Magee, “With Fox,” in our Winter 2014 issue. She graciously answered a few questions here about what she looks for as a judge and what advice she has for aspiring writers. Read more…

Interview With 2012 Fiction Prize Winner: CB Anderson

As we enter the final weeks of the 2013 Fiction Contest, many writers are faced with the question: What does it take to win?

Because submitting work can feel a bit like fishing in the dark with your firstborn child as bait, we asked last year’s winner, CB Anderson, to say a few words about her creative process and to share a few strategies for success in short fiction.

Anderson’s prize-winning story “Mavak Tov” will soon be published in her collection River Talk. The book contains 17 stories — a combination of short and short-short fiction forthcoming from C&R Press in 2014 . Be sure to check it out!

In response to “Mavak Tov,” last year’s judge Dana Johnson writes:

This story haunted me. The main character’s longing and desire for comfort, for a place to be, is so powerful and recognizable, as is the conflict and question this story poses, not just for the main character but for all of us: At what price do we achieve comfort? At what point do we reject what is easy and familiar for something far more necessary, which is true agency and power? This essential question is explored through a beautifully rendered relationship between a mother and her daughter and between the wives of one polygamist man, in gorgeous, unflinching detail. Read more…

From the Fiction Desk: What Makes a Story Stand Out

Our editor soaking up your submissions in his favorite spot.

Our editor soaking up your submissions in his favorite spot.

Each year Indiana Review receives thousands of story submissions, including hundreds to our annual fiction prize (now open!).  And while there is a range of quality, what surprises me most is the high volume of finely crafted prose. To me, this is evidence of hard work. It is proof that writers are rolling up their sleeves, reading great writing, studying craft, and putting ink to the page. In this field of highly competent entries, what differentiates the stories that make it from submission to publication?

​            In “Three Stories Unlikely to Make it Beyond the Slush,” former Indiana Review Fiction Editor Joe Hiland outlines several attributes that earn stories easy rejections, and he goes on to offer three “types” of stories that often feel too familiar to transcend the slush pile. In “What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines” from the The Review Review, Lynne Barrett provides an insider breakdown for anyone interested in submitting to literary journals. Yet even though both articles should be considered essential reading for any fiction writer submitting to Indiana Review, they do little to address what makes a story stand out.

Read more after the jump!

Read more…

Interview with Half-K Prize Judge Dinty Moore

sketchOnly two weeks remain to submit to Indiana Review’s Half-K Prize Contest! But before you succumb to a series of massive panic attacks that leaves you sitting paralyzed in front of a blank Word document, take a second to gain some insight from this year’s judge, Dinty Moore.

Moore is the author of numerous books including the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize Winner Between Panic & Desire, and the editor of Brevity, an online magazine that accepts brief submissions of less than 750 words (sound familiar?).

He answered some of our questions about what makes a compressed story powerful and gripping—like a “cup of coffee five times stronger than the usual.”

Click here to read the entire interview with Moore!
Read more…

Play It Till It Breaks

As a writer and especially as a student in an M.F.A. program I am often asked what it is that I write.  My answer will vary somewhat depending on the person asking and the context of our conversation but I always find that at the center of that perfectly reasonable question lies a demand to identify oneself through genre.  So the question becomes not just, what are you working on, but rather what are you?

As an undergraduate, I studied poetry and wrote a lot of short, spare, tightly enjambed poems.  These pieces were mostly bad but I was certain that they were poems and therefore I was a poet.

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After I left school and found an amazing writing community in Seattle through Bent Queer Writing Institute, I started to write stories and essays.  Complete, unenjambed sentences!  Those sentences were crammed full of sound and image but since they happily went all the way across the page I was certain that what I was writing was prose and that as a prose writer I should now set to work on writing my novel.

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I would not have owned it at the time but I had a pretty rigid view of genre.  I understood that my fiction could be memoir-based or my prose sentences could be rooted in poetic elements of sound and syntax.  But I felt ultimately that it was my job as a writer (and especially as a writer who wanted to be good) to commit to a specific genre and in doing so eliminate any problematic markers of other genres from the piece at hand.

GetOut

Lucky for me I ended up with a lot of smart friends and teachers who introduced me to work that did not easily fit into a single genre category.  I read Lydia Davis, Haryette Mullen, Maggie Nelson, Micah Ling, Michael Martone, Eve Alexandra, and Julio Cortezar.  This work was funny, smart, beautiful, and strange.  It shook my own creative sensibility, my idea of the good, genre-abiding writer. 

What I loved and continue to love about work that pushes the boundaries of genre, work that resides in in-between spaces, is the unruliness of it.  I believe that rowdiness comes not from disregarding form or genre but from inhabiting the space lineated by expectations so fully that the writer is able to push the form until it bends, blurs, or breaks.  It’s the same thing I love about a well-crafted sonnet and a mind-blowing drag performance.

When a piece of classical music like something by Bach is played on period instruments, the notes make use of the instrument to its full capability.  And so every time the piece is played there is the risk of rupture.  As a writer this is what I want to make and as an editor this is what I want to publish.

Speaking of publishing, we just opened submissions for our annual ½ K Prize and there’s been a bit of confusion about what genres we’re looking for in this contest.  And that’s because we’re not looking for a specific genre at all.  I love this contest precisely because it offers a home for pieces that are not easily categorized.  This is an opportunity for us to examine and showcase work outside the traditional boundaries of genre. 

There are a couple of great examples from last year’s contest up on our website now.  J. Bowers’ “Two on a Horse” could be called a series of historical fiction short-shorts.  Megan Moriarty’s “The Clowns Are Leaving Soon” skews more toward the genre of the prose poem.  But neither of my short descriptions here accurately encompasses the wild strangeness that Bowers and Moriarty welcome in these pieces.  So, in terms of genre we at the Indiana Review are inviting you to play whatever instrument you choose and if you play it till it breaks, all the better.

Dying to share your own thoughts on genre?  Have deep feelings about possessive apostrophe preferences?  Come at me in the comments.