Chalk it up to shorter attention spans, but we’re living in a golden age of short fiction. Short story writers can find innumerable outlets through literary magazines, Kindle, contests, anthologies, and live events like the Moth and Listen to Your Mother.
To help authors understand the unique elements of a successful short story, the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat will devote an intensive session to Writing Short Fiction. Participants will develop a personal approach with help from instructor Christopher Chambers, a published author and experienced editor. Over the course of five days, they will read and discuss contemporary short stories with an eye to learning specific techniques. Best of all, they will write their own story that—who knows?—has a chance of being published.
“There’s a market for good writing,” says Chambers, whose short fiction has been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories and received five Pushcart Prize nominations. “Publishing short fiction is a kind of credential for writers that can help get their work read by agents, editors, and publishers. Learning to write a great story can be an end in itself or a stepping stone to other writing goals, such as writing a novel or memoir.”
Now in its 19th year, the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat teaches writers of all levels how to improve their work and find a path to publishing. On June 26-30, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will welcome more than 100 participants from around the country to the Pyle Center, overlooking Madison’s beautiful Lake Mendota. Along with Chambers’ session, leading educators and writers will offer instruction in novels, creative nonfiction, personal essays, children’s picture books, poetry, and writing about women. The keynote speaker is Ann Garvin, best-selling author of the novels I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around and The Dog Year.
The icing on the cake
Chambers is passionate about short fiction. He’s published a couple dozen short stories in magazines and anthologies, and he’s guided other writers in 20-plus years as a magazine editor. Currently he edits the Midwest Review, which features authors from UW-Madison writing programs like Write-by-the-Lake. Several writers from the Midwest Review and Chambers’ classes have recently placed work in other publications and won awards, including Jan Bosman and Erika Mueller.
“The best way to publish is to become a better writer,” Chambers says. “My advice is to be professional, learning the craft and the business of writing. Be persistent with revisions and with marketing. And finally, be patient and enjoy the process. Then publishing success, if and when it comes, is the icing on the cake.”