I wrote my first anthology story for GA for the summer 2014 anthology, The Backup Plan. It was the start of my Max and Elliot series and hooked me on writing short stories. I’ve participated in every anthology since then, sometimes with multiple submissions, for a total of 27 stories. I’m planning on keeping the streak going with the upcoming Anniversary anthology with at least one story.
I thought I’d give some insight as to why I continue writing for all the anthologies and the process I go through when deciding what to write. I’d love to hear from other anthology participants, past and present, about their process as well.
First, I love writing to a theme and seeing what interpretation I come up with and also reading other authors' take on the same theme. The diversity, imagination, and creativity displayed in the anthos never ceases to amaze me. Another reason I participate is to give back to a site that’s given so much to me.
Writing anthology stories is a great way for an author to introduce themselves to readers. As a reader, I may not want to start reading a multi-chapter story written by an author I’m not familiar with, but reading a short story introduces me to their style, and may hook me as a long-term reader if I like what I see.
As an author, I like to use anthologies to hone skills I can use when working on longer stories. When I first started writing, I was most comfortable using first person. I decided I wanted to become more comfortable writing in third person, so I wrote some anthology stories in third person. I’ve also used antho stories to work on descriptive writing (such as Escape and Jus Sanguinis). Sometimes I ask myself a question and then use an anthology story to explore that question. For example, I wondered what it would be like to be reincarnated and how it would affect other people, so I wrote Born Again. Other questions I’ve had have been more hard-hitting, such as how someone’s life is affected by false accusations, and what happens to someone convicted of a heinous crime, who then has to navigate the world after paying their debt to society. I’ve also written from the point of view of a stalker and explored what happens when a gay man falls for his straight, female best friend. I find my more controversial stories tend to get the most views and most comments from readers.
Not every story has to be a controversial gut-punch, though. A well-written, feel-good story linked to the theme is a winner every time. So let’s hear what draws you, as either an author or a reader, to participate in the anthologies.