Writers’ groups help their members turn their stories into work that is publishable, or at least passable. The writers’ group to which I belong took that a step further—we published a collection of our members’ short stories. The book, available at www.amazon.com, is called, 13 Stories from the West Hartford Fiction Writers’ Group 2012.
The short story collection was the brainchild of Lida Boynick, who had heard about a local poetry group that had published an anthology. She raised the idea at our group’s monthly meeting and all of us enthusiastically received it. Why not? We had a trove of great material from which to select the best stories. We thought we could crank it out in a matter of months. How wrong we were.
Participants in a project that involves multiple writers should think about:
- Leadership. The old saw, “when everybody is in charge, nobody is in charge” applies to group projects like this. We appointed Lida to lead our effort. She was the right choice as she handled her duties with tact and aplomb.
- Organization. Key decisions must be made. How many stories to include? Which stories? What are the criteria? We put together a small subcommittee that drafted a set of criteria and circulated it to the group at large. We meet regularly and assigned various tasks to group members.
- Quality Control. We insisted every story must have gone through the workshop process at a monthly meeting. We made one exception for an accomplished writer in the group who had been unable to attend meetings due to a scheduling conflict. We agreed her story had to go through the same process as the rest: assignment to an editor on the committee. Every story was reviewed by a committee member and sent to the author with changes.
- Book Structure. Where would we place the stories? The stories covered a number of genres and we had to come up with the right mix of story length, genre, etc.
The group reserved the right to reject any story that did not meet a publishable standard. Luckily, there were no close calls.
The 13 stories reflect the diversity of our group. Our authors included a lawyer, a retired truck driver, and a teacher, and covered a wide range of ages and life experiences. The collection spans many genres, including mystery, romance science fiction, and fantasy.
My story was called, Solid Gold. It was a tribute to the golden age of radio in the 1960s, when two rival radio stations (WDRC and WPOP) ruled the airwaves in the Hartford region. It explores themes of reality versus illusion, escapism, and the place of rock and roll in people’s lives.
Check out the short story anthology and leave a review.