Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last year in the spring, my writing group was low on manuscripts to critique.  So, we used the extra time to read through all the short stories nominated that year for the Nebula and Hugo.  We followed our usual process for critiquing, but instead of focusing on ways to improve the stories, we tried to address three questions:

One, what works in this story?  Two, why would an editor choose to buy it?  And, three, why would people feel it was worthy of being nominated for an award?

Overall, it was a fascinating and instructive process.  I learned a lot more about writing great stories by hearing the entire table critique all those award nominees than I would have by simply reading them myself.  Even more exciting, I saw changes in the stories being brought to the table after that.  It felt like the process stepped up our whole game as writers and a critique group.

The Nebula nominees have been announced for this year, and, time allowing, I think that we'll be reading through and discussing the short stories again.  So, I'm going to put the links here:

Robot” by Helena Bell (Clarkesworld 9/12)
Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 4/12)
Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess (Asimov’s 3/12)
Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed 7/12)
The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/12)
Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”by Cat Rambo (Near + Far)

Just collecting the links, I found myself hooked strongly enough by "Nanny's Day" that I read the whole story right away without planning on it.  That doesn't happen very often for me -- I think the last time was a Daily Science Fiction story by Nina Kiriki Hoffman called "Boy Seeds."  In this case, as in that one, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  It should be interesting to discuss it in my group when we get to it.

On a side note, the idea of reading through all the Nebula nominated shorts is particularly exciting this year, because this is the first time I'm a full member of SFWA, eligible to vote on the Nebulas.

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