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  • Sticking with this month’s theme of writing for publication, today I bring you another prompt associated with a themed issue.

    This time it’s for flash fiction from Splickety Magazine. This pays 2 cents per […]

  • Oh, this one made me laugh.

    Not just for the unexpected ending, but for the constant, very modern thoughts that crowded my head as I was reading it.

    Basically, this is the story of a ruthless old king who, […]

  • This week’s prompt comes from Mad Scientist Journal who are putting together a special edition with a theme that really tickles me!

    The Prompt
    Write the fictionalized story of an unusual building 

    When I […]

  • Often, when I talk about how to write a short story, I get caught up in talking about traditional, narrative tales that might be structured in a similar way to a novel.

    But one of the things I love about short […]

  • In keeping with this month’s theme of “Publication”, this prompt comes from a market that is actively looking for short stories right now!

    The Prompt
    Write a Fairytale With The Theme “Diamonds & […]

  • From Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang

    This is the (long) short story that was the basis for the movie Arrival, a movie I loved.

    I read the story after seeing the movie, and it was a little hard to separate […]

  • This month is all about publishing; how, why, and why not.  I don’t talk much about publishing at StoryADay because the focus has always been on creativity. However, seven years in, I think we could stand to talk […]

  • Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! […]

    • After two very hard months, I’m so ready to get back to writing again.

      My current goals:

      Use the SWAGr worksheet to keep myself on-goal
      Start posting snippets of work on Patreon
      Write down at least one new idea a week
      Finish one WIP
      One blog post

      Small goals, but if I can manage these I’m in good shape.

      Hope everybody’s goals go well!

      • Great goals for yourself! You sound like you are in the same place I am right now, ready to get back to it. Have a great month, I look forward to hearing about your progress when we check in again in April.

      • Good luck with these. Small, manageable goals are definitely useful and get us in the habit of good work.
        I saw this post from Seth Godin yesterday, that plays into the same idea: Drip by Drip And The Thunderclap

    • I have taken too much time away from writing the last four months and March is about getting back to it.

      Write a new first draft of a short story.
      Finish revising my WIP that I last touched in October.
      Create a schedule of dates that I will dedicate hours to my writing work.
      Schedule artist’s dates.
      Register for a nearby Festival of the Short Story and book lodgings.

      These things matter to me because my fiction writing has been neglected for the past four months while I answered some big questions about my vision for my life.

      Other things happening in March include my birthday and March Break. I will be spending as much time with my family as I can during that week, so I will have to be vigilant about scheduling writing time as well for that week, even just an hour.

      • Good stuff. Sounds like you have some positive, measurable steps in there and are planning for Life to happen too. Good for you.

    • You are working hard on your goals, even when it doesn’t work out as you set out. Keep on keeping on!

    • So I didn’t get 100% of my February goals, which is probably to be expected seeing how busy I was (we made the move successfully; I would not wish the Greyhound bus service on my worst enemy, though). I did get some practice using Duotrope, but I couldn’t quite finish ‘Mortmain’.

      So this month:
      – I’ll attempt to finish and send out ‘Mortmain’.
      – If possible, complete a rough draft of another short story
      – ‘featherweight’ just got rejected, so I need to send that somewhere else
      – and in nonwriting news, I’ll be following up with my old job’s location in this area and try to make them hire me. Fingers crossed.

      • Good luck with the job search and with the submissions.

        Hopefully you’ll have been inspired by Ray (above) committing to sending out rejected pieces within 24 hours. I think that’s a great policy 🙂

    • Love that goal!

      Do you use Duotrope too? I find a ton of interesting markets and themed deadlines here (I’m sharing some as writing prompts this month)

    • Sounds like you did pretty well with those ambitious goals! And I like the sound of the not-short-story that you started!

      I’m a little behind with my own #12for12Stories efforts. Februrary’s did not happen. But I hope to catch up this month.

    • If it’s any consolation, I always find these kinds of challenges really tough to get through until about Day 15. If you can make it to Day 15 you can probably make it the whole way!

      So, Day 8, how’s it going?

    • Yeah, February was tough for me. It always is because both my kids’ birthdays take over (even though one was born in early March) and the lack of daylight always affects me badly. Add in the political WTFs of this past month has chewed up a lot of my reading/writing time as I struggle to stay sane (I try to stick to writing topics in my posts here and to avoid being divisive here, but I don’t think it’s too partisan to say “WTF?” about some of the stuff that’s going on at the moment…)

      Anyhoo, throw in a little thyroid surgery, and my month went a bit off the rails. (Anesthetic and pain mess with your attention span, apparently.)

      However, I’m happy to report that I produced some content for the site that I was really happy with, and I got back on the podcasting wagon a mere week after someone slit my throat with a surgical scalpel, which felt like a huge win 😉

      This month I’m going to commit to very little:

      * Write one short story for the #12For12Stories Challenge
      * Write one big (or several smaller) posts for the Publishing Theme Of The Month
      * Post 4 writing prompts with associated publishing deadlines
      * Critique work for some writing friends
      * Work on the StoryADay ebook A Month Of Writing Prompts 2017
      * I’m also going to write Morning Pages every week day instead of staring at my phone.
      * Doing my taxes!

      OK, that’s not nothing, but still.

  • Last week I talked about reading and writing stories with divided storylines that come together at the end.

    The example I gave, Shakedown by Elizabeth Gonzalez, had a fairly traditional narrative structure. […]

  • Yesterday I reviewed Shakedown by Elizabeth Gonzalez, a story that doesn’t seem to be able to make its mind up whether it wants to be about the renovation of an old steam train, or about a fiesty old man in a P […]

  • I picked this book up because a, it was written by a Pennsylvania writer and b, because of the glowing review written for it by Karen Russell and short story writer and novelist whose writing I love (literary but […]

  • Get the free Get Results Worksheet,
    and catch all the ideas this post gives you

    Let’s be honest: fame and fortune would be nice, but it’s not really the reason we write, is it?

    We write because we need […]

    • Thanks Karen. It’s tough when life gets in the way!

      Here’s a technique that might help you urn that “writing bits and thinking” into productive writing time: keep planning and breaking down the novel into “scenes that need to be written”. Then, when you have a little time & energy for writing, pick a scene and ask: ‘why does this need to be written?’ and “what’s at stake in this scene?” and “what are the protagonist’s external and inner struggles in this scene”. Then set a timer and just write. Make notes about “things that need to be foreshadowed” or “stuff I need to research” or “this needs to be fixed”, and just write!

      Good luck and I’m so glad this article helped!

  • In James Blish’s Surface Tension (which I reviewed recently), the author took the idea of space travel and did something a bit different with it: instead of humans arriving on a new planet and terraforming it to […]

  • Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! […]

    • I’ll go first!
      Last month promised to
      * Write blog posts on ‘practice’ here at StoryaDay – DONE, big long, juicy helpful posts plus podcasts.
      * Make a decision about the mystery series I wanted to write – DONE (postponed for now)
      * Write one short story >1200 words(#12For12stories) – DONE (so happy!)
      * Explore the Scrivener Training I bought ( – DONE! (it’s good)
      * Outreach for StoryADay – Not so much…

      I also used the new form I created to keep track of my SWAGr goals. Did you?
      form screenshot
      But I also some writing done on the next novel, and created an online extra to go along with the article I have in Writer’s Digest this month. I also spent a lot of time working on improving my health, which was on my non-SWAGr goals and that went well.

      For February:

      * Outreach for StoryADay (looking for guest blogging opportunities)
      * Write one short story >1200 words for #12For12Stories
      * Blog and podcast about Persistence (here at StADa)
      * Work 3 days a week on background for the next novel
      * Outline the 2017 Month of Writing Prompts ebook (& start writing)

      I’m going to keep it to that for now, because that represents quite a lot of hours already. Enough to keep me focused but not so much that I set myself up for failure. Also, I have a couple of Life Events happening in February that are going to suck up time (including an appearance at the AWP Conference in Washington DC. Anyone else going?). It’s good to bear that in mind…

      • The 12for12 idea sounds interesting! Probably more manageable for me than StoryADay usually is. 😛 If I finish ‘Mortmain’ this month I might try do 12for12 this year, since that’d put me on track.

        And as always, the amount you’ve done per month is impressive!

        • Thanks! I like the #12for12 because it’s an ongoing reminder all year. And it allows for creating something of quality.

          I’m thinking that StoryADay May might turn up some ideas and drafts that will ‘feed’ the rest of the year. Here’s hoping!

    • Hi!

      So, for January, I said that I would:
      *complete both short stories that are currently in process: I completed & submitted one in the middle of the month and have another (although not the one I meant in my goals!) that I am submitting today; I decided I would to the #12for12Stories, so that is encouraging me on these.
*work on this novel further: yes and no. I did more, but at this point there is a lot of thinking needed and I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.

      *2-3 blog posts on my blog: I wrote 2 on the tv and film I’ve been watching lately.

      And moving on for February:
      *a short story to finish by mid-month (it’s 1/2 done)
      *edit the story I submitted in January (the editor of the anthology got back to me & is maybe interested with some changes)
      *submit to one other source with a story I already have
      *more on the novel: I have to figure out a plan on what I’m going to do next
      *screenplay course: I’m starting this near the end of the month & need to figure out what I’m going to work on. (My work-in-progress is a political thriller that has been far overtaken by actual events, so….)
      *2-3 blog posts on my blog
      So that’s a lot and probably more than I can finish. We’ll see.

      As always, thank you, Julie, for doing this!

      • Yay! Well done on the progress and congrats on the potential anthology contribution (that’s probably top priority then, right?)

        Have you ever tried the Snowflake method for outlining a novel? Not that you have to be an outliner, but it really helped me with the process of ‘thinking through’ what came next. Also: Stuart Horwitz’s books and Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines all had exercises in them that helped me break through massive blocks on novels (mostly by making me write copious notes and focused background material, that, in turn, made me realize what was important and what needed to happen next. Just ‘thinking’ never works for me because my brain is too…ooo shiny!)

        The screenwriting course sounds interesting. I imagine that’ll feature heavily in your March SWAGr to do list 😉

      • And thanks for the thanks. It helps me, too, but it’s nice to know I’m not yawping into the void with these posts 🙂

    • So! I wasn’t around in January much for a good reason; I have a… rather difficult home life, and have been struggling for a while attempting to get out, but being unable to. In January things got bad enough I reached out to friends for help, and one of them was able to. So I and my sister are moving across a couple states at the end of this month to live with the friend! It’s a bit terrifying, but I’m guessing everything will be a bit easier when I’m not in this place anymore.

      On top of… everything relating to that (lots of research, prepping, sorting through belongings, navigating very difficult conversations)
      -I managed to finish and submit ‘featherweight’ to Apex. It got promptly rejected, so I submitted it to Liminal Stories, where it was rejected again. Slightly discouraging but also good, as I’m shooting for 50 rejections this year (I’ve heard the method helps, and it seems to be, a little). So that’s 2/50 already. This month I’m going to sub it to Strange Horizons, and possibly Shimmer if it’s rejected by SH within the month.
      – I wrote most of another short story, ‘The Mortmain’. This month I’ll attempt to finish it and send it out somewhere as well; it’s always better to have a couple stories in the air at once.
      – Also this month I’m going to practice using Duotrope to find markets and track submissions; I finally caved in and got a subscription and it’s looking to be very useful.
      – and in non-writing news, this week is going to be packed with stuff pertaining to the move. Lots of practice packing and so on.

      • Wow, that’s a lot going on. I hope the move is a step in the direction you need to be traveling. I’ve done some big scary moves, myself. If I have any advice, it’s to trust yourself and try not to have regrets 😉

        Good for you, for having some writing goals as well, to keep you focused on other things, too. Good luck with those submissions. I’ve been rejected by some of those markets myself.

        I started a blog called 101Rejections a few years ago. I never set a time limit, but I’ve stepped up my Rejection Efforts in the past year and am up to 26 now. It’s a pitifully low number, really. It adds a little sick humor to the process when I can tally up another milestone closer to my 101! (I got the idea from “Go For No!”, a book mainly for sales people.)

        Good luck with everything. Looking forward to hearing how things are going in March.

        • Thanks for the well-wishes, Julie and Kylie! It’s been a pretty difficult time and there’s rough days yet to come, but I ought to be in a much better place come March. 🙂
          I’m probably going to start recording my rejections on my blog as well so I can keep track of how long they took, where pieces have been, etc. I started shooting for a specific number because I saw another author using it, but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. And I’m trying to step up how often I send stuff out too – I was doing really well about sending stuff out Feb-August of last year, but I’ve had very few things going since then (got distracted by my anthology contribution and got blocked on writing short stories). It’s good to know some other people are recording them too. 🙂

    • Hi. Last month I said I was going to write a story a day but for some reason slacked off . I think this was mostly because my schedule changed along with the kids events as well. I did get an acceptance into a nice anthology called The Sanitarium. This month I’m doing a story a week and indie publish.

      • …also it might be because a story a day is REALLY TOUGH, even with the peer pressure and threat-of-humiliation of making it public during May!

        Congrats on the acceptance and good luck with your Feb goals!

    • Hi Julie, well done on achieving your goals. I always like reading what you have done or are doing, which provides inspiration. I love the photo of your SWAGr progress sheet. Seeing a filled out version makes it seem much more effective. I looked at the template last month, but that was about it.
      Last month I was looking to draft at least one chapter a month of my novel. January has been a difficult month for me and although I started the next chapter I didn’t get far, approximately 1,000 words. I managed to revise one of my earlier short stories and submitted it to a performance group for their Valentines event. However, I received an email this morning and it was not one of the chosen stories. Oh well, one step nearer my 101 rejections.
      On a more positive note I’ve started two more free online courses; a re-run of the genealogy course I did last year and a film making course which I’m looking at in relation to scriptwriting. Although these reduce writing time, continued learning and development is a good thing.
      Going forward for this month, I want to finish last month’s novel chapter and maybe start the next one. Also I have one or two short story ideas that I want to progress leading to a competition entry in a couple of months time.

      • Thanks for the feedback, Malcolm. I’ve got my Feb worksheet filled in already and my “what else is happening this month” box is pretty full, so we’ll see how I get on. Just have to focus, I guess.

        Sorry about the story rejection, but I’m sure the revision was worth the time, anyway.

        Good luck with your chapter and short stories

    • This month I’m taking my first steps toward using Scrivener as a primary writing tool. I received the app for Christmas as an incentive to write the novel whose premise I’ve been kicking around for five years. I plan to use it to compile, format and push out my first story collection, as well.

      Julie, if you have suggestions for Scrivener training books, I’d appreciate hearing them.

      Also, I’m pushing myself to write at least a story a week, this month. But then, that was my goal for 2016 AND 2017, as well. But you have to keep pounding these things home by announcing them the world, right? Accountability!!

      • Hi Joe,

        Sorry for getting back to you so late, but I HIGHLY recommend It’s video based (which I don’t always love) but this works REALLY well. His vids are short and targeted and explain both how and why you might do a thing in Scrivener.

        How are the story-a-week stories coming along? (Accountability, remember?)

    • I love it. I didn’t love it until I used it for a non-fiction project and came to understand the value of having all the different files.

      Then I wrote an novel in it, using a new file for each scene. It was such a GIFT when it came to tweaking and moving things around while editing. No more scrolling for a huge Word file, that hangs and hangs…and crashes.

      Not to mention the Snapshot feature. Oh my!

      The LearnScrivenerFast lessons have taught me a whole bunch of new things. Basically whenever I think “Can Scrivener do XYZ” the answer is almost always ‘yes’ and the training usually has a quick ‘how to’ video showing me exactly how to do it. [I need to find out if he has an affiliate program, if I’m going to be such a raving fan 😉 ]

    • Congrats on the great reception for the new box set and novel.

      I’ve got a similar mailing list goal. We should compare notes. It’s hard NOT to get distracted by that.

  • Happy January!

    This month’s theme has been ‘Practice’ (as in setting up and maintaining a healthy writing practice).

    Here’s what you might have missed:
    The January 2017 episodes cover […]

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  • Sometimes it’s hard to write, or hard to get started, or hard to remember why we put ourselves through this! That’s when you need to assemble your cheerleaders…In this episode I talk about what my cheerleaders […]

  • Every month we get together to declare our intentions for the month in the SWAGr post’s comments.

    But when the month rolls around to the 20th or so, it can be a bit hard to remember what you committed to doing […]

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