Volunteer Rebeca Dunn-Krahntalks with the Open Season Awards fiction judge about getting through a first draft of a novel, how writing poetry helps you build precision, and the maddening and exciting process of crafting a short story.
RDK: Short fiction is, to me, one of the most difficult forms. When do you know that a story is working? What will impress you as you judge the Open Season Awards fiction category?
I think a short story works when you feel like it has revealed something true. When the story haunts you after you’ve read it, by what it has revealed, and what it hasn’t. I’m looking for the story that is sure of itself, that doesn’t apologize for existing, that holds back on what the character feels so the reader can feel all of it. In the way Yiyun Li’s stories leave you with a visceral feeling or the way Chekov’s stories make ordinary moments extraordinary, or the way Murakami makes you believe in a talking monkey, the story that seeps into your consciousness and becomes a little part of your worldview. One that, after having read it, you simply can’t go on with your day without thinking about it, or without telling someone about it.
Read the rest of Deepa Rajagopalan's interview.
Michelle Poirier Brown, Open Season CNF judge
Past contest judge Rowan McCandless talks with the Open Season Awards cnf judge about reading for relationship, taking risks, and how writing can be a somatic experience.
RM: For a writer, winning a contest such as the 2023 Open Season CNF Award means validation, recognition, a readership, and of course a monetary reward. As the judge of this year’s contest, and given the vastness of form, craft, and content, what are you looking for in an award-winning piece?
I will be looking for writing that creates intimacy and immediacy, that gives me access to experience I would not otherwise have. Writing made credible with vivid detail. I appreciate playfulness in the use of vocabulary, but it is only impressive when it is also apt.
I’ll look at dialogue. Was it well used? Do we get full scenes?
I’ll notice humour.
I don’t anticipate giving preference to a story solely on the basis of its subject. It’s not enough to take risks, you have to take risks well. It’s really about craft. Even with an innovative approach, craft matters.
Read the rest of Michelle Poirier Brown's interview.