Short Story Semi-Finalist, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
I live in London and work in Television Production as a Junior Production Manager. It's an often hectic job so any free time I get goes into writing.
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing fiction, it’s always been a part of my life. But in 2016, I committed to the goal of being published. That’s when I joined the London Writers Café and started sharing my writing with other people.
I’m currently working on a steampunk novel while also submitting a speculative fiction/hardboiled detective novel to agents. And I’ve always got a handful of short stories on the go. I also post about all things speculative fiction at my blog Melanie Roussel Fiction (https://melanierousselfiction.com/).
My successes include my short stories Rock ‘n’ Revolution published in the Henshaw Three anthology and Chasing Time in the Scribble Magazine. I’ve also had guest posts on the site 10 Minute Novelist.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
I was blown away when I found out I was a semi-finalist. I have so much respect for LISP that discovering I’d produced a piece the judges enjoyed was incredibly rewarding. It’s felt like an uphill battle so the validation that I’m on the right track has given me new energy.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short Story?
The best thing about writing short stories is the word limit. It challenges you to focus in on what’s important. You only have so much time to capture your reader’s attention and each line counts. I appreciate that challenge.
The hardest thing is knowing when a short story is finished. I’ve a tendency to want to sit on stories and revise them constantly. I’ve managed to break this habit by sending my entries out to competitions which provide feedback – a great way of knowing how a story is standing.
- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
I wrote Fifth Bird Shattered in 2018. It’s been a continuous process of submitting and revising ever since. It’s one of my absolute favourites of the stories I’ve written. It’s also one of those stories which arrived apparently out of thin air, fully formed, so I couldn’t tell you where it came from if you paid me. Which is a shame as I’d love to have a dozen more of them.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 1500-word short story?
Some of my best stories I’ve discovered through free writing and writing sprints. You put pen to paper and don’t stop writing for fifteen minutes! It’s amazing what can be drawn out of your subconscious. I tend to figure out character and theme by the end of the piece, rather than forcing it from the start. Obviously, once you know where you’re going, the second pass of a story is where you build on those foundations.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
I’m a big believer in entering competitions. My resolution for 2020 is to submit to 50 writing competitions and agents. That’s not as scary as it sounds. It gets you used to writing for a defined audience, writing to deadlines and, yes, dealing with rejection. Simply by the law of large numbers, the more you write, the more you submit, the better your chances!
The hardest thing about writing competitions is the amount of homework you have to do to make them worth it. Keeping a track of competition deadlines, knowing what the judges are looking for, studying format specifications, and weighing up entry fees can be a headache. But still, important and useful skills to hone as a writer.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on short story and LISP?
Of course! LISP is a well-respected competition with a wonderful community.