I entered a feature competition run by Thresholds short story blog last year, not expecting anything to happen. It was an exercise to see if I could write an engaging piece about a writer's work. I knew I wouldn't win and, indeed, I didn't make the longlist. But I got an email from the editor saying that she would like to publish my feature on Thresholds. It appeared today: Subtle Brilliance.
It discusses The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and how it has influenced my own writing. Not only is it one of my favourite short stories, but it lingers in my mind in a way that no other story does. I used to think it lingered merely because of its content and Jackson's writing skill, but I came to realise it also had a lot of writing lessons to impart to me.
The main lesson, which I touch upon in the Thresholds piece, is that I tend to psychoanalyse my characters and explain my story. I need to learn to trust the reader to make the connections. As I was reminded in Writing Short Stories , which I discussed in the post I wrote last week, short story readers are intelligent and insightful. They don't need to have their hand held. By not trusting my readers, I'm not trusting my writing.