Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comma Press’s New Showcase Anthology Wants Your Stories!

THIS YEAR’S anthology will have a purely structural theme, namely THE REVEAL. It will focus on the importance of endings to the short story tradition, the ‘dropping into place’ of a second, hidden, and unexpected story, revelation or (unresolved) image at the close—one that sheds new light on everything that’s preceded it.

Let’s briefly pause here, to make a distinction between the reveal and the twist. A twist ending brings in new plot elements that haven’t been adequately foreshadowed, and takes the story off in a ‘surprise’ direction, e.g. “I woke up and it was all a dream” (and the many hoary permutations of this). It’s unearned, a cop-out, a cheat, a swiz. We’re not looking for that, thanks.

The author of a reveal story, on the other hand, carefully weaves the ingredients of their surprise ending into the preceding sections of the story, so when the revelation comes, you say, ‘Of course! How did I not see that?’ The ending has been carefully foreshadowed, yet because of the author’s misdirection it still comes as a surprise.

The careful balancing of these two elements—foreshadowing and misdirection—are key to the success of a reveal story. Too much foreshadowing, and the reader will see the end coming a mile off. Too little, and it will feel like a deux ex machina.

1. Stories must be between 2,000 and 8,000 words. Most stories come in at around 3,000 to 6,000 words. No more than two stories can be submitted by any author, although submissions can be replaced by later stories.
2. Stories must be emailed as pre-Vista word doc attachments (‘.doc’) or rich text files (‘.rtf’) and NOT vista or Windows 7 word docs (‘.docx’). These stories should be emailed to two addresses: and, with a short cover note. This cover note should be in the body of the email (i.e., not an attachment) and should contain: (i) your full contact details; (ii) a brief outline of previous publications; (iii) relevant mention of any writer or story that the submission piece might be in the style of, owe something to, or be inspired by; (iv) an entry code (if you’ve not entered before) (see points 5 to 7 below).
3. A hard copy of the story (double spaced, printed on one side of A4) should also be sent to: Jim Hinks, 34 Wellington Grove, Stockport SK2 6SL
Hard copies will not be returned.
4. Your full postal and email address must appear on the manuscript itself.
5. Writers who have previously submitted to past Comma projects (Bracket, Parenthesis or Brace) qualify to submit for this new project FREE OF CHARGE.
6. Writers who have submitted stories before the 11 January 2011 have already qualified to enter FREE OF CHARGE.
7. Any writer submitting a new story AFTER 11 January 2011 must either pay an entry fee of £10 for up to two stories (made payable to ‘Comma Press’). Alternatively, you can enter a new story for FREE if you have previously purchased a Comma book. To claim this free entry, either quote the PayPal purchase order number in the cover note (this will be in the email that you received when you bought online), or, if you bought the book from a shop, tell us the name of the book and the THIRD PERSON mentioned in the special ‘thank you’ list at the back.
8. Deadline for submission is 1st July 2011.
9. The editor’s decision is final and they will not be obliged to enter into a discussion about each individual decision.
10. The editors retain the right to delay publication or postpone the deadline until enough stories of sufficiently high quality have been found.

Comma Press
314 Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BZ


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