Join our Short Fiction Writing Exercise

There is an article in New York Magazine that discusses James Frey’s recent business adventure in literature. Allegedly, he is recruiting young writers to help him produce new, high income-generating fiction, but is pushing the participants into brutal contracts with little return to the authors. If this is even remotely true, I’m personally very disappointed. Both A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard are two of my favorite books. I also got to meet James on one occasion and had a brief email correspondence with him years ago, right before his ascent to fame (and then notoriety) began. He seemed like a very solid, caring guy, he never struck me as someone who would exploit young, naive writers. So my hope is that this story is either inaccurate or at least blown out of proportion.

In the spirit of exploitation, I too am asking writers to produce works of fiction for me, after a listener to our radio show (with the great Ben Corman) asked him and me to each take a crack at producing very short fiction. Since I’ve never attempted writing in this format before, I thought it best to take down anyone else who is willing to expose their writing flaws as well. So if you are interested in working on your writing, email your 850 words or less short fiction piece to RDobrenski@aol.com. Please send the story in the body of the email as opposed to an attachment. No topic restrictions whatsoever, just make it fictional, mind the word count and get them to me by Wednesday, December 8th. The stories that Ben and I really like will be discussed on the podcast, posted here and/or linked to if you have your piece on your personal blog as well. And, of course, no one other than you will get credit for the work.

One twist: in truly sinister mode, I am not even offering the paltry sum of $250, as James Frey is accused of giving for a completed book. Other than praise and perhaps increased traffic to your site for your short piece, you get NOTHING (insert maniacal laughter here).

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17 Responses to “Join our Short Fiction Writing Exercise”

  1. “a listener to our radio show … asked he and I to each take a crack at producing very short fiction.”

    This should be “a listener to our radio show asked him and me…”

    Didn’t your editor get you a copy of Strunk and White?

  2. Rob Dobrenski says:

    Would you please get a job already?

  3. Do you need an editor for your blog?

    Well, I guess it’s clear that you need one. What I mean is are you hiring?

  4. Stark says:

    What’s the word on genre fiction?

  5. Ryan says:

    Lmfao. I’m in.

  6. L.C. says:

    This sounds like fun, but all I can think about is writing some sort of horror story where people who still have aol.com email addresses are selectively targeted for destruction. 🙂

  7. Rob Dobrenski says:

    C’mon, LC, that’s a way better idea than I have going on for my piece. Make it happen…

  8. T.J. says:

    I wrote this when I was drunk one night, does it count?

    “So, you wanna check ’em? Make sure he makes it OK? Po’ bastard never knew what was coming.”

    “Fuck ’em. He’s a goddamn ghost.”

    * * * *

    My chest hurts. I can’t sit up.

    In the back of my head, I remember.

    It’s May 6th, 2030. It’s sandy, it’s 81 degrees, and these are all facts.

    Facts don’t mean much when all you can see are the sun, the moon and all those damned circles of light that you can’t bat from your eyes. No matter how hard you try to ignore them. (Even if they are in the corner of your eye.

    They always come back.

    Over and over and over …

    It’s somewhere around May 6. I could be wrong but the last time I glanced at a calendar was 2030.

    For some of us, time means as much as the dying light from the stars.

    * * * *

    (From your raw notes:

    “But he’s human. He’s one of us! Why don’t we get back-up? Why not HELP HIM?”

    “Because ghosts aren’t here. They aren’t us. Repeat after me: ‘they’re nothing.’ ‘They’re fairy tales.’

    “They don’t even kick back or try to flee.

    “They shouldn’t breed … “

    * * * *

    I try to be modest and say that these are all the things I know.

    (From your raw notes:

    I’m alive for the time being.

    There are those whom find my kind strange and nothing worth mentioning rather than being spit-targets. According to people whom somewhat matter, we’re great for hire. That first date where you needed to set up a mugger?

    I’m willing to bet you got some pussy that night.

    All I know is that for some reason I turned out to be someone to feel sorry for, professionally.

    My black eye and my lack of a tag.

    At this moment on whatever’s day of whatever’s year … I’m still fucking alive.

    And you’re feeling better.

    The sun is shining. It’s 81 degrees.

    And these are all facts.

    * * * *

    (From your notes:

    “What about the rest of ’em?”

    “Do they scan?”

    * * * *

    (From your notes:

    The reason I’m a ghost is not that I haunt. In a way.

    The real ghosts … are there.

    Somewhat.

    Some of us lie to ourselves, as we have forever.

    Day after day after month after month after solstice after equinox after year after decade after decade.

    The funniest part of the joke is that we’re not in your imagination.

    We exist. And we walk among you.

    Cough. Cough. Hack.
    * * * *

    “So, should we give them some sort ‘o last rites, or some damn thing?”

    “Don’t be a goddamn moron. God created vultures.”

    * * * *

    Don’t laugh, but I’m pretty sure the last thing I’m going to look at is my scar.

    I’m a ghost because there’s nobody to track me, anymore.

    So I hear harsh words. Believers against non-believers.

    And I lose.

    And that last kiss to my scarred right thumb … is sweeter than anything.

    Imagine being a ghost blip that disappears from the radar.

    Imagine being a bedtime threat then hallucination.

    Imagine being …

    Note: My apologies for sucking at HTML, should this become a thing. And no, I’m quite stable, just good at writing gibberish while drunk. There some kind of award being given out?

    I take checks. Keep up the good writing, Dr. Rob.

  9. An_Irish_Brit says:

    Mine’s done! 999 words. 🙂

    Wait! Now you say it’s 850?!

    Oh bollocks… 🙁

  10. Kate says:

    Seriously… Rob you should write a blog post about your aol email address. It really baffles me.

  11. Irish Brit: My senior year of undergrad I was submitting a short story to the English honor society convention and they had a 2000 word limit. My story started at around 3000, and after countless hours of editing, cutting unnecessary words, rearranging sentences and the like, I was still a few words over the limit.

    Suddenly everyone started talking in compound contractions: Couldn’t’ve. Shouldn’t’ve, Y’all’d’ve.

    Gotta do what ya gotta do.

  12. An_Irish_Brit says:

    BL1Y: I’ve cut it down. Now it’s 890… exactly the same as Rob’s “850 or less” contribution. Why he didn’t just go with Corman when he said “keep it to around 1000” I’ll never know…

  13. Nadia says:

    Hi I’d like to pull a nerd…can we only submit one story?

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