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SHORT STORIES – AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL OR EDITORIAL?

November 7, 2018

I ran across a situation recently when I wanted to submit to the latest short story anthology for my writer’s group. I submit something almost every year. Though I’ve been featured in many of them, I still get rejected often enough. For some reason, I seem to do better with autobiographical and editorial/op-ed pieces lately. While I have plenty of short stories stocked up, the batch of judges we’ve obtained to screen the stories apparently doesn’t favor icky bug (horror), which is what I usually write when it comes to short story fiction.

On the other hand, I’ve had good success with both autobiographical (as in Galf), and editorial (as in Orange Orange Orange). There are others as well.

On the fiction side, maybe literary is their thing, so my action-based get-to-the-point style isn’t what they like. I’ve noticed that on the critique sheets I’ve received. When I submit something reality-based, that usually resonates.

APPEALING TO HOT BUTTONS

Submitting to a short story anthology can be tricky. You, of course, have to have the writing chops. On the other hand, no matter how good your writing is, if you piss them off at the outset, it’s all downhill from there, which is what I did with my last story. I spotted a UFO in Spain. It was half real and half fiction. Because I mixed it, I hit a hot button that set me off on the wrong foot with the judges. It was downhill from there.

My most recent successful submission was the story before the UFO one and dealt with road construction. This was a hot-button topic I KNOW the judges could relate to, though at the time, I hadn’t made the connection and wrote it because I felt it. In this case, it worked.

This time, my submission is a mix of autobiography and editorial, dealing with my military service. It resonates on many levels, but at the same time, may piss some people off. A lot depends on the background of these judges. If I piss them off on the first page, I’m sunk.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE?

Many of you write more than novels. If you’re like me, you can step back and if a particular muse hits, you find the time to pour out something spur-of-the-moment. I know I do. When my military story idea hit me, the initial idea was an op-ed. However, there was no editorial to rebut, so I approached it different. I needed real life examples, and what better example than myself. Why? Because I was feeling it in the first place. So, it became an autobiographical editorial.

On the other hand, Galf, was an autobiographical story about my father. I had another one called Dye-no-myte about almost blowing up Lompoc, California. That was pure autobiographical.

It’s always better to do an editorial when you have lived the example. In the case of Orange Orange Orange, I have, and still live it every day. In fact, today, as I write this, I dodged orange cones going out to do several tasks earlier today.

SUMMARY

An autobiography is your story. An editorial is basically complaining about something. An op-ed is a rebuttal to an editorial you have issues with. If you’re going to complain about something, it’s best that you lived it rather than complain about it second hand. Therefore, the editorial is best a mix of autobiography and opinion.

Happy writing!

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