Today I’m continuing my look at anthologies. When editors/publishers decide to put together an anthology, the first thing they decide on is the theme. Whether it’s a general theme (love, death, happiness), stories that take place in a haunted house, or short stories about rabbits, all the stories in the anthology share a common, connective bond. But what if they all start off with the same first line?
The First Line is an online magazine that publishes short stories in any genre – the catch? – they all must begin with the same first line. Whatever sentence they give you has to be the first line in your story. For instance, if their required first line is “Jimmy saw the UFO land in the cornfield.” That has to be the first line of your story.
I’m pleased to say that my horror story “Guest of Honor” appeared in The Best of the First Line - The First Three Years anthology and was also featured in TFL on Tape (Episode 10) as an audio broadcast. What’s it about? Here’s a brief excerpt:
The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight. Black candles burned in cast iron candelabras. The scent of musky, earthy incense filled the room. The occult craze was in full force. People were trying to summon Satan for petty things...
Sometimes anthologies set a broad standard for submissions and let the writers’ imaginations go wild. That was the case with the What If… science fiction anthology. The guidelines were simple. Submit a sci-fi story based on the premise of “what if…” Almost all fiction (for the most part), starts with “what if…” and writing a sci-fi tale with that as a premise can lead writers into many different directions.
In December 2009, my humorous short story “Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men” was chosen for inclusion in ReadMe Publishing’s What If?: Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories. Here’s an excerpt:
A young couple moves into an old Victorian house and quickly discovers they’re not alone.
…Sam grabbed a handful of yellowed “Not of This World” newsletters and dumped them into a trashbag. Everywhere he looked, he found books and pulp magazines about UFOs, aliens, and mystical creatures.
“No wonder everyone thought the old lady was a wacko,” he muttered. He glanced at the cover of a sci fi magazine. The poorly drawn illustration showed three little green men standing next to a rocket. He frowned. Maybe these magazines had given Margie the idea about the pixies, or maybe she’d been hearing the strange noises at night, too.
Anthologies are a great way for writers to get their short stories published. If you have an old story lying around that fits an anthology theme, why not submit it? You never know where it will lead. (And if you have a story that sort of fits – tweak it and submit anyway!)
Next week, we’ll look at two more anthologies – both involving dogs.
Until next time!