A Slice of Life
In honor of the upcoming release of the first book in the new series of devotionals for fiction lovers, I thought my readers might like to know more about the authors who contributed short stories to the book. This week’s guest is Carolyn Bennett Fraiser.
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What do you enjoy about writing short stories? What are the challenges?
Short stories are unique in that they often represent a “slice of life,” unlike novels, which can cover weeks or months from beginning to end. I love to grab a few moments from a character’s life at a key point when everything for that character changes. In those few moments, I live and breathe with the character and his/her memories, thoughts, and emotions, waiting for that final decision or action. The challenge is intertwining past and future into the present action in such a short space and presenting an ending that is just as satisfying as an engaging novel. It’s exhilarating when all those pieces fall into place.
What are the benefits of getting a short story published?
Publishing short stories presents a great opportunity to break into the book market, but it also opens the door to connect with a wide variety of readers. In our fast-paced, busy world, not everyone can commit to reading a full-length novel. People have short attention spans. Life is hectic. Short stories reach people where they are in life. A well-written short story can impact readers as much as any novel. Plus, writing short fiction helps authors write tighter and make a greater impact with each word.
Have you ever published a short story other than through this fiction-lover’s devotional series? If so, where? And what was that experience like?
Yes. The first short story I published, “Homecoming,” won the 2010 fiction competition for Country Roads Magazine. I was shocked, especially since the story was born out of a class assignment during college. Out of the three short stories I wrote for the course, I felt “Homecoming” was the least likely to be published, but it is the only story from that group that has been published so far. Since then I have had three short nonfiction stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including “What I Learned from the Cat,” “Lemons to Lemonade,” and “Miracles Happen.” Receiving a box of complimentary books never gets old for me. It’s like Christmas!
What advice would you share with someone who wants to write short stories?
First, study the craft and gain as much experience as possible writing for a variety of publications. Many writers focus solely on getting a novel published. They waste so much time waiting when they could be building a portfolio with smaller pieces that build professional credibility. Write for magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, or write communication pieces for organizations. Second, don’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection is as much a part of writing as getting published. I see rejections as a rite of passage. Each rejection slip helps me hone down which publications are more suited for a particular story or piece. And finally, keep writing. The more you write, edit, and rewrite, the better writer you become. Take advice from others and keep working at the craft. Don’t give up.
Carolyn Bennett Fraiser has written for radio, television, web, and print publications and has worked as a communications specialist for nonprofit ministry organizations for more than twenty years. She traveled internationally for several years as a missionary writer and photographer. With more than 800 published pieces in local and national publications, Carolyn holds a master’s degree in journalism and professional writing from Regent University’s College of Communications. She currently writes for the Journey Christian Newspaper in Asheville, North Carolina, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She and her husband are working toward completing their certification as foster parents.