This afternoon I've devoted a couple of hours to The Yellow Room, something I'm doing far too infrequently lately. I'm still enthusiastic about the magazine, but my own writing has taken precedence.
I've had fun scrolling through old blog posts here to find previous competition winners. I still have several prize winning stories to publish. I'm in the process of choosing the shortlist for The Yellow Room Autumn Competition 2011. I'm a little disappointed in the standard this time, although I haven't yet finished reading all the entries. The writing is competent, but the same themes crop up over and over again. Illness, death, funerals, marriage breakdown, affairs, infidelity, a childhood anecdote. I don't reject these themes out of hand, but they need to be treated in a fresh way. It is difficult to explain what I'm looking for in a short story, because there are so many different elements that make up a great one.
I read a promising entry this morning. Wonderful imagery and descriptions of a child's bedroom in the 1970s. The writer had perfectly captured that era, and I was right there with her in the room. However, there was no story. It was a description of a time and a place, but nothing happened. The characters remained stuck; freeze-framed in their little world. There was no sense of progression or movement. All the time I was reading, I was thinking 'What happens? What happens? Yes, so, what next?' 'What is the author's message?' 'What is the point of the story?'
There has to be a beginning, a middle and an end for a story to work.
In future blog entries I'm going to take a favourite short story and explain why I like it so much. The story may have been published in The Yellow Room or it may have been published elsewhere. The writers may be well known or they may be only starting out as a short story writer. It would also be great to hear via the comments section on this blog which are your own personal favourite short stories.
Finally, a note on Issue 7. I'm afraid publication has been delayed, because we are in dispute with Biddles over the print quality of the last issue. They still haven't got back to me. I hope to send Issue 7 to the typesetter next week, but I'm unsure how long it will be before it goes to print. Thank you for your patience!