Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Are You Considering Submitting A Short Story To A Themed Anthology?

I hope you're considering submitting a short story to a themed anthology  because there are a lot of reasons why it's a good idea. When I jumped into Tick Tock: A Stitch in CrimeI wanted to try out a different writing style and switch from my usual category. This was the perfect time. 

In my story titled Heartless, I had a chance to play with a period piece and use the syntax, style, and slang of 1871. Of course, while I wanted the dialogue to sound as if it belonged in that era, I still wanted the story to appeal to the modern reader. In trying to do that, I learned a lot about how historical fiction writers manage. 

The mansion I pictured for Heartless

I read a few pieces from that period to get the flavor and to contrast it with modern language. I also read some secondary pieces by writers I like. Then I relied a lot on my ear, trying to work the syntax into an approximation of 1871, but keep it readable in 2018. 

Here's part of a scene with an explanation of what I did with the language. 

“When did this report come in?” Scofield demanded.
“Last night, sir.”
The detective halted and faced the sergeant. “And nobody notified me.” [Incomplete sentences help break up any dialogue, but I think it's essential when writing period dialogue.]
“You were not,” the sergeant cleared his throat, “on duty, sir.” [I deliberately didn't contract "were not." Then I broke up this sentence with an action.]
“Blast it, Hawkins. ["Blast it" is actually from the 1600s, but it carried through several centuries with some slight modifications. I thought it worked here.] I made it clear to fetch [I felt this verb was better than get, or call.] me immediately when a new missing person report came in. Young girl. Kenwood area. What didn’t I make clear?”
When the sergeant didn’t answer, Scofield waved off the next angry words ready to spring ["Spring" was a little stilted, but I didn't think it didn't stood out much. And I followed with fragments.] from his lips. “Never mind. Too late. What do you have so far?”
The sergeant handed the papers over and stepped back, silent. 

This will be my fourth themed anthology. With each one, I've learned something new about writing, so I'm kind of a cheerleader.  I think readers will find this one has some excellent stories.



  1. I thought you kept true to the style of the time while making it very readable for today's generation.

    1. Thanks, Alex. It was a fun challenge.

  2. I loved your story - and you did a fabulous job of keeping with the times while intriguing the reader - great work! :)

    1. Hi Jemi,

      I'm really glad I entered this anthology contest. I learned so much. Glad we share a publication!!

  3. You placed just enough words from that time to make it sound authentic.

    1. Hi praise from a publisher-writer! Thank you.

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  5. I love the Victorian era. I totally felt like I was in that era when I read your story. My Franny character is the ghost of a former Victorian madam, but I don't change much in the way she speaks, except that she says stuff like "balderdash! LOL. And since she's existing in the 21st century, her use/misuse of modern vernacular provides a bit of comic relief :)


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