November 21, 2008 § Leave a comment
Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore interviewed at Web del Sol:
AMG: Brevity accepts CNF submissions of 750 words or less. Why stop at 750 words?
DM: It started because I didn’t want to read long pieces on a computer screen. Since then, I’ve learned all sorts of wonderful things about brief writing, flash nonfiction, micro-essays, and what I’ve learned makes the short form all the more intriguing. But the real first impulse was to save our eyesight.
AMG: When it comes to Brevity’s submissions, do you have a preference to certain styles and/or topics?
DM: As soon as I say that I’m tired of a topic – love of grandparents, for instance – someone submits an essay on that topic that blows my head open. So we are open to anything, but try to be fresh, not familiar and safe, and edit ruthlessly.
AMG: What really makes a submission stand out?
DM: Tight prose, from the first sentence to the end, and surprise. Take the reader somewhere she didn’t realize the piece was going.
August 21, 2008 § Leave a comment
As part of of Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2008 Web-Wide Shout Out yesterday, Brevity contributor Robin Behn blogged on her piece, Childbirth in Alabama, for Syntax of Things. Below is an excerpt where Robin says nice things about us (blush), but the full post is well worth the reading for insight into her writing process.
Here’s the nice stuff:
I sent this piece to Brevity because I admire the on-line journal very much. I’m intrigued by how a non-fiction piece can be accomplished in 750 or fewer words. In fact, it was reading Brevity that prompted me to write this piece. I had been reading the journal the very night I wrote the piece, thinking to myself, “I wonder if I could do something like that.” I usually write poetry, so I decided to approach this piece like a giant poem. I like the leaps that happen from one paragraph to the next, the way poems often leap from one line or stanza to the next, and I like the way images do a lot of the talking.
Robin’s full post can be found here: Syntax of Things.
And be sure to check out Best of the Web 2008.
March 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
It is always nice to hear news of past Brevity contributors, and we’re pretty pleased to learn that Michelle Richmond, author of Curvature, way back in BREVITY Five (Summer 1999), has a new novel, and it just showed up on the NY Times Trade Paperback Bestseller list:
THE YEAR OF FOG, by Michelle Richmond. (Bantam Discovery, $12.) After the child she was watching disappears on a San Francisco beach, a woman spends an agonizing year searching for answers.
And other previous BREVITY authors — send us your news.
October 19, 2007 § Leave a comment
Lisa Groen Braner wrote the Soundtrack for Brevity 25, and this meditation on brief nonfiction:
The challenge of brief nonfiction seized me first out of necessity, then out of delight.
A few years ago, in a tiny terracotta room, I wrote a book for new mothers. I set my alarm for five-thirty every day and wrote until my children woke up, usually at seven. Just enough time to sketch a 500 word essay, write a draft, or revise one. Fifty-two short essays later, a book small enough to fit in a diaper bag was born.
When your audience (and author) works all day with small children, when overtime and sleeplessness are de rigueur, brevity works. A book daunts. A single essay enchants.
Still, the challenge of brief nonfiction is the compression. Everything extraneous must fall away. Like a poet, the short nonfiction writer must distill an idea, story, or memory to reveal its peak moment. Short nonfiction that succeeds carries an epiphany or emotional punch. Like Debra S. Levy’s piece entitled “Jackpot,” when she reveals in her very last sentence the truth about her mother. Or in John Calderazzo’s “Lost on Colfax Avenue,” when he recounts his own disorientation while watching a blind man struggle to find his way.
In my lyric essay “Soundtrack,” I navigated briefer territory than usual. A lyric essay is a nonfiction subgenre between essay and poetry. It’s mosaic in form and attempts to reveal an emotional truth beyond constructed narrative. No segues or transitions. Just as songs on the radio rouse specific memories, I leap from one shard of my life to another, ending close to where I started—a memory of my father.
I began writing short nonfiction out of necessity. And now, though my children sleep through the night and go to school all day, the flexibility and creativity of the form still delight me.