Five Tips on Writing for Anthologies
Many writers get their publication start with anthologies. Typically shorter in length, writing a brief testimony or flash fiction piece is much more “doable” than, say, authoring a full-length novel or conducting the research required for a feature article. If seeing your story in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book is something you’ve been dreaming about, then read on.
Here are a five simple tips for bettering your chances of getting published in an anthology:
1. “Write tight.” This means making every word count. Go over each sentence and chop every word you can without ruining the flow or meaning. Simplify your piece. An anthology is not the place for flowery prose or padded description. Tell your story as crisply and clearly as possible.
2. Plan a theme. Most anthologies are prepared according to a theme so, right off the bat, you’ll know the overall topic you’ll need to focus on. Within this theme, do not write about a 2-year life lesson or include three different reader take-aways in your story. Focus and write specifically about one event to make a stronger impact.
3, Create a great hook. If you’re looking into an anthology focusing on special moments with your grandmother, ask yourself what makes your story special or different from the hundreds of others that will be submitted? Decide on a particular event, then come up with a unique hook that makes your story stand out from the rest.
4. End with a bang. A powerful ending is vital. Anthologies require endings that leave the reader laughing, crying, gasping, or at least feeling a sense of hope or satisfaction. A good way to do this is to look at how you began the story and wrap it up in the same manner. Tie in your opening hook with the ending to make your story feel complete.
5. The “Aha” moment. This is directly connected with the ending. The reader needs to come to a point where they realize the lesson or moral of the story. But be careful not to shove the message in their face or tack it on at the end, which will only leave the reader feeling cheated. Subtlety is key. The message should be woven into the story, preferably creating an “aha” moment that positively affects your reader.
Basically, what it comes down to is if you can take one true event – not a two-year life lesson – and write it in story form (term: Creative Non-fiction), you have a good chance at being published in an anthology.
Here are a few anthologies to consider:
www.ultimatehcibooks.com (The Ultimate series. Not currently accepting submissions but keep checking back)
If you have had success with any of these, or know of others not listed here, I encourage you to leave a comment so others can benefit.
Also check out This Little Writer Went to Market for more tips on writing for anthologies, as well as other paying publications.
LYNDA LEE SCHAB is a full-time freelance writer from Michigan. She got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring) and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School) and in many places online (including Examiner.com and wow-womenonwriting.com). Lynda works behind the scenes at FaithWriters.com and is a regular book reviewer for FaithfulReader.com. She is also the author of Mind over Madi and Madily in Love, the first two books in a 3-book series. Visit her website at www.LyndaSchab.com.