Friday, 30 December 2011

Major Australian Literary Journals and Magazines

12/08/2014 - to read an updated and expanded version of this post, please visit Error Proof Editorial Services' blogThank you for visiting!


I've been working on the following list for my 'One List to Rule Them All' for some time now, and thought I'd turn it into a post.

Below, in no particular order, are links to the major Australian literary journals and magazines currently accepting submissions, and a little information on each. I've only included those that are reasonably well-known and feature at least two pieces of unsolicited fiction per issue.

Even though most of the information is from the publications' websites and/or current issues (as of 5th of January, 2012), be sure to read their style guide and submission guidelines yourself before submitting your work. I also recommend reading a couple of recent issues to identify emerging trends and see if they've recently published a story similar to yours.

As you'll see, most don’t pay very well compared to non-fiction, and most take a while to reply to submissions, but having a story in any of these is sure to help your writing career.

If I've missed any of your favourites, please don't hesitate to say so in a comment and include a web address if possible. Thanks for reading and good luck: the short story industry is quite competitive at the moment.

Emanuel



MEANJIN QUARTERLY

Description: "Known primarily as a literary magazine, Meanjin reflect[s] the breadth of contemporary thinking, be it on literature, other art forms, or the broader issues of the times."

Submission Guidelines: "Submissions should be attached as a .doc or .docx file and emailed to meanjin@unimelb.edu.au with the subject heading ‘Meanjin Submission’. Please send only ONE piece, and wait for a response before submitting again. Include a very brief biographical note. We do not impose word limits on submissions, but note that we rarely publish work over 5,000 words."

Estimated Response Time: Three to four months.

Commission: "Contributors are paid a minimum $100 for prose. The total fee will be determined by the number of pages the article fills in published form ... The average fee paid is about $50 (Australian) per printed page; higher fees are sometimes paid to specially commissioned authors."


OVERLAND LITERARY JOURNAL

Description: "Overland, the most radical of Australia’s long-standing literary and cultural magazines, celebrated its 50th year in 2004. Publishing features, fiction, poetry, reviews, comment, artwork and opinion pieces. Overland is committed to engaging with important literary, cultural and political issues in contemporary Australia. It has a tradition of publishing dissenting articles with a political and cultural focus."

Submission Guidelines: "We prefer writers who show some consciousness of their era and the issues it presents. We encourage experiments with both form and content. We do not impose formal word limits and occasionally publish very long essays and stories, but potential contributors should be aware that space limitations make longer pieces harder to accept. We ask all authors to submit their work via an electronic submission manager."  

Estimated Response Time: "The quantity [of submissions] received means that the process can take some months." 

Commission: ???



WET INK

Description: "Wet Ink is put together by a passionate team of writers and a designer who decided to do something about the lack of opportunities for writers to publish their short works and readers to access them. Inside each issue you’ll find fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction, interviews, photography, book reviews and more. It’s the place to discover some of today’s best up-and-coming talent, as well as new works by established authors." 

Submission Guidelines: "Send no more than three submissions.
• Only hard copies considered.
• Put your name on the cover sheet but NOT on the work.
• Text should be double spaced in Times New Roman 12pt.
• No word limit—although the longer a piece is, the more
outstanding it needs to be to replace two or three shorter
pieces.
• Also interested in shorter pieces (to 500 words) that are
funny, snappy, experimental or thought-provoking."
(Full guide here)

Estimated Response Time: Four months.

Commission: Under 1500 words $70, above 1500 words $120.



GRIFFITH REVIEW

Description: "Griffith REVIEW has a proud tradition of creating space for new and emerging writers. [It] is written with intelligent, well-informed and curious readers in mind."

Submission Guidelines: Each issue is themed. Check out the future editions page for details. The rest of the guidelines are set out in ‘For Writers’

Estimated Response Time: I couldn't find one, but when I submitted a short story to them in 2010 it only took six weeks, which (in my experience) is quite good.

Commission: "Rates will be negotiated directly with the author upon acceptance."



SOUTHERLY

Description: Published three times a year, "Southerly is a journal of and for the discussion of Australian Literature and the publication of the best in new Australian writing." 

Submission Guidelines: Hard copies can be sent to Southerly, c/- Department of English, University of Sydney NSW 2006, or emailed to southerlyjournal@gmail.com "Please also attach a cover letter with your submission including your name, contact details, title and page count of your work and the submission date." More submission guidelines here.

Estimated Response Time: "We attempt to acknowledge receipt of submissions within a week." Although, you may need to wait a little longer to find out if your work is accepted.


Commission: ???



THE LIFTED BROW

Description: "The Lifted Brow is a bimonthly magazine based in Melbourne. Every two months, the Brow publishes fiction, art, comics, and commentary on everything from maths to celebrity to design. It’s just meant to be fun and smart."

Submission Guidelines: Send as an email attachment to fiction@theliftedbrow.com

Estimated Response Time: The official website says they may take up to six months to respond to fiction, but are one of the rare few that encourage simultaneous submissions.

Commission: ???



MASCARA LITERARY REVIEW

Description: "A bi-annual literary journal ... particularly interested in the work of contemporary Asian, Australian and Indigenous writers."

Submission Guidelines: "Submit 1 short story up to 3,000 words, or for flash fiction no more than 1,000 words in a single Microsoft Word doc as an attachment, labelled with your name to submissions@mascarareview.com. 12 point Times New Roman, 1.5 spaced."

Estimated Response Time: Three to six months, but they accept simultaneous submissions as long as you notify them immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

Commission: Seems like a flat $100 




Other publications I've yet to research in full:









Updates:
29/02/2012 - Updated submission guidelines
07/01/2012 - Added more information and images for most publications

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

My experience studying at university


In case you’re visiting my blog for the first time, 

And for my French-speaking readers: je vous en prie


I’ve been studying Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing part-time at Victoria University since the middle of 2010. I’m a stay at home dad with two kids under 5—leaving just enough time to study two subjects per semester. The decreased workload and ability to study from home allows me to pursue my dream of becoming a novelist while focusing on raising my little ones and maintaining our household.

A fairly accurate dramatisation
So far I’ve completed Fiction Elements and the first semester of Editing 1 online. I’ve also studied Story Structure, Short Story, Novel, Professional Skills, Writing for Young Adults, and the second semester of Editing on campus. Next year I hope to complete Industry Overview and a second year of Novel and Editing.

Over the last eighteen months, I’ve learnt tons of stuff that didn’t sink in during VCE (oh so many years ago). I’ve gone from not knowing the difference between nouns and pronouns and verbs and adverbs to being able to pull apart sentences from my favourite books and put them back together in my own words with my own characters. It feels great calling myself a writer, and believing it!

I write short stories, poems and reviews, maintain this blog and am a few chapters into my sci-fi novel for Young Adults. I’ve been published a couple of times (three to be exact!), received Commendations and High Commendations in national writing competitions, and, most recently, won the 2011 Melton Short Story Competition.

I'd like to thank my wife and children for supporting me through the tough times and the academy for...

I couldn’t have done any of this without the skills I’ve gained at university, and the support of my tutors and fellow students. Sure I could have found a lot of the stuff on the net, or in books, but there’s a lot of rubbish out there and it’s really hard to separate fact from fiction. By the time you research the source of the information, make sure they’re a credible, active author and they’ve covered every aspect of the topic, you’ll have a massive headache and be over the whole learning process.
Is this illustrator following me around or something?

The classes at uni are fairly casual—certain topics need to be covered, but the delivery is adapted to each group. Almost all of the ideas and practices to do with writing are customisable. We discuss the relevant theories and come to our own conclusions. I don’t agree with everything the other students say, but I listen to them and make up my own mind. If something I’m initially against is repeated often, by different students or teachers, I look closely at whatever it is and adapt it to suit my way of thinking. The great thing about being a student is you don’t loose points for changing your mind.

I quite like the workshopping. Hearing what others think of my work, and giving feedback on theirs, makes the writing process a social experience. After all, I want my stories to be read by, and appeal to, as many people as possible. And it’s great learning from other people’s mistakes.


Bender, my robot friend, you are hilarious. How about some new episodes?

The tutors have a lot of experience in their fields. They teach from experience in a practical way. They are writers, too, and understand how tough it is for an emerging writer. They’re extremely approachable and many will look over your assignments the week before they’re due. Don’t expect them to correct your spelling and punctuation, but they might give you a little nudge in the right direction. If you’re really lucky, some might even read the stuff you’re trying to get published. Every bit of help counts.

If any of my tutors are reading, it’s probably best you skip the rest of this paragraph … Still here? Consider yourself forewarned ... Failing a subject is almost impossible! There, I said it. All you have to do is turn up to all the tutes on time (apart from the most exceptional of circumstances), participate in the discussions, listen to what others have to say and hand in all your assignments—no matter how crap you think they are.

The real challenge, the challenge you should set yourself, is achieving Distinctions and High Distinctions. These grades are quite elusive, especially if you have little prior experience as a writer, like me. But they are achievable.

How do I add 'And Writers Smell Bad All the Time'?


It would be nice to get 100% for everything you hand in but it’s just not realistic. The randomness of everyday life has a way of getting in the way of the best laid plans. Like your kids getting sick the day you're meant to hand in that big assignment; your hard drive getting wiped the day before, taking with it the changes you made since your last back up to USB; or, a plane crashing in your driveway, blocking your only path to uni. Two of these happened to me this year!

Make your own!
Whatever your goals, be realistic and kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back, often. Little steps like handing in assignments are just as important, if not more than, the grades you receive.

What maters most is that you learn the core principles in each subject, and how to apply them to your chosen field of writing, whether it be fiction, non-fiction, editing and publishing or a mixture of these. I’ve found that effort counts for a lot when you’re studying. If you put in the effort you won’t be able to stop yourself from being a great writer!

The most relevant piece of advice I can give a fellow student is to use all the resources available to you, especially if you’re struggling. If you’re having trouble understanding a particular idea, tell the tutor. Pardon the cliché, but some are worth their weight in gold. They’ll answer all the questions you put in emails, be available before and after most classes and may host study sessions during the week. A rare few even answer the office phone. Take advantage of all this, especially if you’re struggling—you wouldn’t be studying their subjects if you knew everything.

Merry Christmas and good luck in the new year to you and your families, and I hope you do well, whatever you choose to do.
Emanuel

Monday, 28 November 2011

Review: 'Sektion 20' by Paul Dowswell




November, 1972: Germany is in the middle of the Cold War, pitting people in the country’s East against those in the West. Teenager Alex lives in East Berlin during a time when it was illegal to read books, paint, sing and do anything else creative that isn’t seen as benefiting the governing dictatorship. Sick of the oppression and the way everyone suspects their friends and neighbours of being spies, he decides to speak out against what he believes is a pointless war and the heavy handed Stasi—the state’s security force. But when he goes too far, a Stasi agent is sent to make Alex conform, or kill him. Alex and his family realise their only chance to survive is in West Germany, but getting close to the wall that divides the country in two, let alone over it, proves to be virtually impossible.

It’s hard to avoid clichéd descriptions like ‘coming of age story’, ‘political thriller’, ‘gritty realism’ and ‘page turner’, so I won’t try. Lovers of historical fiction, especially alternate history, will adore Sektion 20. The narrative is immediate and thrilling; the setting realistic, compelling and well-researched. The result: a piece of historical fiction I highly recommend to mature Young Adults who can stomach the unsavoury aspects of the Cold War, and those who enjoy chapters with cliff hanger endings.

(The novel for this review was supplied by Bloomsbury)
Review by Emanuel Cachia.

Monday, 21 November 2011

And the winner of the Melton Short Story Competition is…



Time and Time Again by me!

It feels great winning, especially with a story I like and worked so hard on.

So, what exactly went into Time and Time Again?
- An outline on what I wanted the story to achieve
- A year of turning the ideas into legible prose
- Nine drafts (more if you include the line edits)
- Critiques from my writing group
- Two other competitions (one Highly Commended)
- Rejection letters from three publishers


Looking back at the first draft, the voice and plot were there; only the back-story and placement of words and punctuation changed. But what an impact these things have!

The story went from just over 1,500 long-winded words that took a long time to get to the point to 998 punchy ones that demand attention.

What’s the story about? A guy hangs himself in prison and thinks about his life and where it went wrong. As the story unfolds, he goes further and further back in time to an incident of family violence where he wishes he stood up for his mother. The last few paragraphs show how he wanted to live his life and, hopefully, shows that family violence is passed on from generation to generation until addressed.

Where to from here? I hope to submit it to a few of the literary mags that haven't already rejected it. I’ll probably do that until someone picks it up. I’m also considering sending it somewhere overseas—maybe The New York Times.

Wishful thinking, I know, but if my aim is high I might just hit the target that feels so far away :)

Emanuel

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Assesing my career options as a writer


The time has come to choose my subjects for next year (2012). This had raised a lot of questions, the most important being:


Q: Do I want my writing carer to focus on fiction, non-fiction, editing or production?

A: All of the above!

If only I had time to do them all ... Well I do, in the long run. But which two subjects should I do next year?

I'm thinking Novel 2 and Industry Overview 1 are musts. A possible third subject is the hard one. It's come down to a choice between Non-fiction 1 and Editing 2.

Hmm...

Editing 2 focuses on producing publications and working as an editor, and is compulsory. But I can do it next year...
In Non-fiction 1 I'll learn to write non-fiction (duh!). Specifically, reviews, interviews, feature pieces and maybe memoirs and a little journalism.

Editing 2 will refine my editing skills and show how a publication is put together - something I really want to see.
Whereas, Non-fiction 1 will be a great opportunity to see if I enjoy writing factual pieces as much as I like writing fiction and can handle the deadlines.

Editing 2 might be the edge I need to sell my novel and the experience I need to put together a book of short stories by local writers.
Non-fiction 1 will give me more experience as a writer, rather than an editor, and should help me to present my ideas in a logical sequence of thoughts. It might lead to a freelance career in reviewing books, games and other stuff, which I can do when I need a break from my novel...

But which will get me into a paid position quicker?

Which will I use in the long term?

And, can I handle studying four subjects next year? :)

It's VCE all over again...
Help me Obi-wan Kenobi; you're my only hope!


*Ghostly voice* ‘Trust in the force, Luke… err… Emanuel.’

I’d love to hear from current, and previous, PWE students, and welcome comments from experienced writers.

Thanks for reading,
Emanuel

Friday, 28 October 2011

Review: 'Gamerunner' by B.R. Collins


GAMERUNNER
By B. R. Collins

Gamerunner follows Rick, a teenage boy living in the future where acid rain prevents people from going outdoors. Rick’s father, Daed, works for Crater—a virtual reality game developer that benefits from people spending the majority of their time, and money, in their games. Daed created the Maze as the ultimate game that can never be beaten. Rick not only tests the Maze for glitches, but also finds solace in the various activities and challenges within. And when a player comes close to completing the game, it falls to Rick to stop them.

Collins has created a detailed and believable setting where the greater population is scared of the outside world, Undone, and obsessed with the Maze. Sure the Maze isn’t real; but, it beats living in Undone.

Collins effectively uses the limited third-person point of view. At one stage, Rick eavesdrops on a conversation in another room. Although Rick can’t ‘see’ inside the room, sounds allow the reader to figure out what happens while Rick remains confused.

Whenever Rick is in the Maze, the narrator uses an awkward, repetitive sentence structure with very little punctuation. This is awkward to read at first, but after a few chapters it proves to be a great way to differentiate the Maze from the real world. Sharp, repetitive sentences remind the reader that although Rick would happily spend all his time in the Maze if he didn’t have to eat and sleep, he shouldn’t shun the real world for a game.

Corporate greed; dysfunctional father-son relationships; a dystopian future; and, humanity’s tendency to follow the status quo, rather than challenge it, are all explored in Gamerunner. While the setting, theme and plot are definitely dystopian, gamers like me will say, ‘Bring on the rain!’

The novel for this review was supplied by Bloomsbury



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Six Word Stories in Platform Magazine

One of the first subjects I completed in my ongoing Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing was Short Story B with Margaret McCarthy. In this class, Margaret introduced us to a variety of short story forms including the ‘six word story’.

How hard can it be to put together six words, right? Wrong!

Those six words need to convey all the elements of a good story—character, mood, setting, theme and plot—while having a definite beginning, middle and end, and using a style that shows rather than tells. Phew!

After the original discussion in class, I scoured the internet for six word stories and found a few sites dedicated to the form and hundreds of great examples. My favourites include:

Found true love. Married someone else.  —Dave Eggers
Blind date. Wrong restaurant. Missed destiny.  —Clare Hill
Dad called: DNA back: he isn’t.  —Helen Fielding
“Apple?” “No.” “Taste!” “ADAM?” Oh God.  —David Lodge
Megan’s baby: John’s surname, Jim’s eyes.  —Simon Armitage

Every single sight mentions Ernest Hemmingway and his belief the best story he ever wrote contained only six words:

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

While new clothes frequently get lost in my children’s cupboards until they are outgrown, I think Hemmingway is alluding that something happened to the baby. The voice is that of an advertisement and hints the author needs the money and is ready to move on from whatever happened. I might be thinking about this too hard, but my reasoning shows those six words imply a much greater story and, more importantly, create a taking point for readers and writers alike.

Over the next week or so, I created more than 50 six word stories of my own; I just couldn’t help myself. I recently submitted my best to Platform Magazine, who commissioned 13 for their 10th, and current, issue. If you’d like an electronic copy of Platform (it’s free!), please email me at emanuelcachia@bigpond.com . You can also pick up a hardcopy at Victoria University’s St Albans campus or one of the Rotunda in the West events.

I’d love to know what you think of the stories and welcome you to post your own.

Thanks for visiting,
Emanuel

Friday, 7 October 2011

Emerging from school holidays writing-hybernation...

'What have you been doing?' I hear you ask.
     Well, apart from editing revision and chasing my kids around the house, I ran a workshop on 'Creating and maintaining a blog' at the Melton library; finalised two short stories and sent them off to local competitions; and, submitted a piece of creative non-fiction to Wet Ink magazine.
     I also managed to 'almost' complete a 3,000 word story for young adults and re-draft a sci-fi story to the brink of nonsense (back to the drawing board with that one!)
     With a little luck, I might have some good news to share just before Christmas.
Fingers crossed,
Emanuel

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Words on the Page

The below is an extract from a fictional piece I've been working on for a little while now.

Hi, I’ll be your narrator this evening. Please allow me to introduce you to my chosen medium—this is my job as a writer after all. Words, meet our audience. And you, dear reader, meet my words. You two are going to get along great. I just know it.
If you really want to have some fun, take the phone off the hook, place a lamp beside your favourite reading spot, turn off all the other lights and make sure it’s very quiet. Don’t stop reading for anything—you might miss something important. Go on, I’ll wait for you here…


Love to know what you think,
Emanuel

Monday, 26 September 2011

A re-imagining

Not only am I struggling to find time to post on the topics I intended this blog to cover, but also I don’t feel qualified to speak in the depth this blog, and you, the reader, deserve.

So, I’m re-imagining this site as a platform to share my experience as an emerging writer. While I won’t post the details of everything I’m doing (my life isn’t that interesting and this isn’t a diary after all), I will mention the stories I’m working on, and those I’ve submitted to competitions and publications.  

I hope you check back regularly to see where my stories and I are at, and for snippets of my favourite stories. After all, this is a blog all about the writing and only a little about me :)

Thanks for reading and, as always, your comments are most welcome,
Emanuel

Friday, 9 September 2011

So much to write; so little time...

I've been spending most of my 'spare' time either editing old stories or writing chapters for my novel. Unfortuneatly, this has left little time for blogging. It's not that I don't want to - I quite enjoy it - there just aren't enough hours in a day or days per week to do everything I want. Add two sick children to the mix, a house that refuses to clean itself and food that won't self-prepare, and... well... you get the point.

Please dont dismiss my blog just yet. Once I get a few more chapters down, or find a way to clone myself, the posts will come thick and fast. But for now it's back to digitising another chapter :)

Emanuel

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Age Short Story Competition

While I think of something interesting to post, here's a competition you'd be crazy not to enter:

The Age Short Story Competition
Closing: September 23, 2011
Word limit: 3,000
Entry fee: nil, nada, bubkis.
Prizes: totalling $6,000!

This is the big one people. Nothing to loose; everything to gain.
Just making the shortlist is sure to boost your career!


Check it out @ http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/seeking-australias-writing-talent-20110729-1i3j9.html

Friday, 19 August 2011

Which pitch?

If I go back to FBOW too soon, I might work Jenny’s POV to death – as I did Martin’s. I will redraft it (I couldn’t stay away even if I wanted to!); I just need to let it rest so I can see it as a whole and not think every word sucks.

On another front, I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my novel and am quite happy with the direction it’s taking.

‘So, what is this story about?’ I hear you say.

Well, funny you should ask. I’ve come up with the below pitches:

1. A coming of age story following Deimos and his twin sister, Phobos – the only teenagers living in a mining outpost on the moon.

2. Deimos and his twin sister, Phobos, are tired of their parents arguing, the stereo types forced on them, and being the only teenagers living in a mining outpost on the moon.

3. Deimos and his twin sister, Phobos, struggle with being the only teenagers living in a mining outpost on the moon, having the mission to colonise Mars depend on them, and learning the person they thought their father, isn’t.

4. Earth is overpopulated: its resources almost exhausted – leaving little room for the law-abiding citizens, let alone those in prison. A starship of convicts is leaving to colonise Mars, but will Deimos and his twin sister, Phobos, both be onboard? And, will they be on the same side of the law?

Which do you prefer?

If you can see an area that needs improving, or an angle I haven’t thought of, please share your thoughts. Please keep in mind these are not intended to be blurbs describing the entire plot; but 'pitches'. The idea is to be able to sell the novel to a publisher if I manage to corner one for only a few seconds.

I’d love to hear what you think or have my attempts put to shame :)

Thanks for visiting,
Emanuel

Sunday, 14 August 2011

There are always two sides to a story...


I’m still feeling too close to For Better or Worse. I know it needs more action and immediacy, but the straps prevent him from acting and the tube down his throat prevents him from talking. I’ve really got myself in a pickle this time...

I have some shorter sentences in mind. Mostly fragments. But the words are turning to mush before my eyes. So, I thought I’d post his wife’s side of the story. This is what I came up with:

Looking through the observation window, Jenny listened to the MRI machine drone on as it scanned her unconscious husband. Sobbing, she reflected on the car accident only hours earlier and how much she loved him despite their short marriage. He’d be a great father to the child in her belly, which kicked in agreement.
His limp body was only halfway into the machine when it stopped. Doctors and nurses cautiously filed through the room’s only door, all but ignoring her.
She stopped one. ‘What’s wrong?’
The man clutched his clipboard closer to his chest, looked at her blankly for a split second or two before saying, ‘He’s not human!’

Thoughts, feedback, insults: I’ll accept them all!
Emanuel

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The second draft

I’ve allowed For Better or Worse to rest for over a week, and feel quite good about it. In the second draft I ask myself if any words can be swapped in, or out, to make the story more immediate and evocative. This is what I came up with:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine with a dull feeling his body was broken in many places. He tried to object to the scan but a tube down his throat turned his words into a series of gurgles. When he strained against the straps holding him firmly in place, a nurse jabbed him in the leg with a syringe. As his vision blurred, he saw his wife peering through the observation window - oblivious to the chaos about to ensue - and realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

Even though the story has less then than 100 words, I believe it contains the most important elements of a short story. It has:
-         a definite beginning, middle and end,
-         a main character faced with a life changing conflict,
-         something preventing Martin from achieving his goal of escaping with his secret intact (the straps, tube and sedative),
-         increasing pace and tension that leads to a rewarding climax,
-         a distinct and appropriate point of view told via a narrator who arrives late and leaves early.

Although, as usual, I’m not entirely happy with the voice. It feels a little stilted and long winded. This is apparently the hardest skill for writers to learn, and takes years of practice… I’m tackling this head on by studying hard, reading with sentence patterns and narrative voice in mind, and writing - a lot. My confidence is increasing with each story I write and by taking in all feedback.

Once again, I’d love to know what you think of the changes, both for and against, and hope you check back for the next draft.

Emanuel

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Back on track, and the first draft

It's been almost two weeks since I last looked at For Better or Worse. And what a busy two weeks it's been! The school holidays ended; a new short story demanded to be written and an older one drafted; I added more content to this blog and had to study for, and sit, two editing tests. All while doing my best to be an active parent and semi-social human being. No wonder so many writers turn into recluses!

Anyway, I haven’t stopped thinking about For Better or Worse with the excellent comments in mind. This is what we had:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine, a dull feeling his body was broken in many places by the car accident. His wife peered through the observation window, oblivious to the chaos about to ensue. When he tried to voice an objection, a tube down his throat allowed only a gurgle. Straining against the restraints only earned him an injection of sedatives. As his vision faded, he realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

I like the story, a lot, but feel it lacks drama and tension. A good story should allow the reader to experience the events and sympathise with the characters. I decided on the following:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine with a dull feeling his body was broken in many places. A tube down his throat turned his objection into a gurgle. When he strained against the straps holding him firmly to the gurney, a nurse gave him an injection of sedatives. As his vision faded, he looked to his wife peering through the observation window, oblivious to the chaos about to ensue, and realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

As you can see, I’ve dropped “from the car accident” as it’s irrelevant for such a short story, and added “with” to the first sentence to fix a possible grammatical error and make the words flow more smoothly, per Stingingthetail’s recommendation (thanks!).

I like Martin having a wife who doesn’t know about his secret, but the second sentence was too distant and may have been in her point of view. She is now mentioned as Martin would see her and moved mentioning her to the last sentence and toned it down to encourage re-reading.

I also like that a tube down his throat prevented him from voicing an objection, but it was telling rather than showing – something to avoid in fiction. Shortening the sentence should also downplay the reason for Martin’s objection, allow readers to draw their own conclusion.

I considered getting rid of “oblivious to the chaos about to ensue”, but feel it creates tension and intrigue by raising the questions ‘what chaos is about to ensue?’ and, ‘why doesn’t she know about it?’ This sets the reader up for the final sentence, designed to tie up the loose ends, give a little surprise twist and reason to read it again to get the full story, and, hopefully, read more of my work.

I saved this as FBOW-1 and hope to put it away for at least a week before applying the first coat of polish.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments, both for and against the changes.

Emanuel