In my This Little Writer Went to Market workshop last weekend, I touched on writing for anthologies. I had a few people comment that this is something they'd like to try, so I'm posting the basics, along with some links for you to check out. Hope it helps! Please let me know if you get a story accepted for publication. I'd love to cheer with you.
If you attended this class, you may remember that I mentioned a quote made by Terri Tiffany, friend and fellow writer, who has had several stories published in various Chicken Soup books. I asked her if she had any advice to pass along to you. She said, “Just write tight, have a theme planned, great hook and ending, and an aha moment before the wrap up. That formula seems to work for me.”
Below, I've expanded Terri's advice a bit:
"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.
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.
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.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.
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.