Creating Anthologies


What is an anthology?

Rather than write a brief history of the word and its meaning, it is to all intents and purposes a ‘collection of artistic works’ which have a common theme, style, or another general pattern. Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2


Anyone who knows me and this blog will be aware that in early April 2015, I wrote a post specifically about anthologies, theme and genre. I’ll provide a link to that article at the end of this post. I will also create a dedicated section on my main blog menu for anthology-related articles.


On this occasion, I’d like to introduce my latest idea, which has been underway since earlier this year.


What is this new plan?

I’m basing my idea on the theory that the best stories are written by creating a first draft, leaving it aside, bringing it out again at a later date to edit, leaving it aside again, and so on. Using that system, it might take me around two months to produce that one short story.

Now, when that one has been filed away for the first time, I can look at another story. I write the first draft and file it away. Perhaps it has taken me a few days in both cases, to get those first stories written before filing my efforts.

Let’s say that it’s now about ten days since I wrote my first short story, and both the first and second tales are ‘resting’. I could now start my third idea for a short story.

Using this method, by the time I find myself filing my fifth or sixth story, I could feasibly pull out my first one again, and take a look at it. When I’ve read it and edited it again – I would then file it as ‘second draft’. I then take each first draft in sequence and take it to the next level. During the process, I might find the inspiration to add to the collection.

Once the collection is underway it’s important to annotate each title with ‘first draft’, ‘second draft’, and so on to retain control over the work in progress. There is no need to worry about the resting period for stories, because I’ve found that the longer they are left alone, the fresher they look on the next read-through.

In theory, each story will have a minimum of three weeks between drafts, but in most cases longer, which is a good thing.

Slow and steady is the way to work.

Not What You Thought*

Will it take a long time to produce the finished collection?

Yes, of course, it will, but anybody who aspires to be worthy of the title ‘writer’ or ‘author’ must have the patience to continually chip away and polish work until it is honed to the best it can be.


If it takes months – it takes months.


How will I keep my ideas fresh during the process?

This is where the second part of my plan comes into play.

For some time, I’ve been working on my next two anthologies – simultaneously. I have one collection featuring military-themed short stories, and another collection featuring science-fiction themed short stories.

No, I may not be a recognised sci-fi writer, but I’ve written a couple in the past, and I feel I can produce sufficient variety in the genre.


Is there any other way I can maintain a fresh outlook on the construction of my two anthologies?

Yes, I’m also working on two novels simultaneously. For some people it may break the rules, or test their resolve to work on more than one project, but I find it works for me.Image (23)


How do I write two stories at once?

Simply by using the same method I outlined earlier in this article. I took several weeks to get my next thriller up to first draft, and then when that manuscript was put aside, I started work on my first attempt at an erotic novel.

When the erotic novel manuscript was filed away, I pulled out the thriller again and gave it another rewrite. Both novels are now at the fourth draft and resting whilst I read and review for a while.
Yes, I will no doubt write a short story during that time too.


Are there any tips here?

Yes. If you’re in the early stages of whatever type of writing, be it short stories or novel – you must learn to take time away from the manuscript.

I know from personal experience, that for a novice, in particular, the work in progress (WIP), is an all-consuming aspect of life. It soaks up time that really should be spent away from it. We must learn to allow our WIP to rest, or ‘breathe’ occasionally. It does help.

My two favoured methods are, to read, or to start writing something else. It helps to let your other work rest properly without interference. It also stops your primary WIP becoming a ‘task’. It should be a labour of love, not simply labour.

Until my most recent work I’ve only ever used one person as a beta reader, but I would suggest at least three other pairs of eyes to have a look at work before hitting that publish key. As I’ve said before, I don’t have any relatives or ‘friends’ to read my work, so it pleases me that any feedback I receive will be genuine.

The people reading your work to give feedback prior to publishing, don’t have to be writers, but I believe in my limited experience of such things, that it helps if they are. They have a keen eye for issues. A non-writer is more likely to simply enjoy the story.

If you have short stories of a reasonable standard, whether or not, you do, or do not have an anthology of your own, it’s a good idea to increase your platform with a guest appearance in somebody else’s collection, or in a compilation by various authors.


When will I be publishing my next work?Image (25)

I’m hoping to have my debut erotic novel, Give and Take, published in August / September 2015.
A target date for my thriller, Acts of Vengeance (alternatively Beyond The Law), is now around October / November 2015.

My two anthologies are building steadily so there will be no rush to complete them and publish them. They will appear when the time is right.

Do I have any short stories apart from those appearing in my own anthologies?

Yes, I have short stories appearing in my blog menu under the heading Short Stories. I also have short stories making an appearance in mixed author anthologies like:

Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration by English Heritage (various authors),

Christophe’s Farewell and other stories by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Out of the Shadows by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

The Last Waltz (an audio anthology) by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Not What You Thought and other surprises by Paul A. Ruddock (includes guest authors)

You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology by Ian D. Moore and friends (various authors)

Book cover - You're Not Alone*

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my thoughts, theories and opinions.
Comments and feedback are always welcome.

If you’ve enjoyed this topic, you may find my earlier post on anthologies interesting:
Anthologies: theme or genre-based?



It takes effort but if a task is worth doing ...

My featured graphic is an acrylic depicting a bistro.  I completed the painting for a young couple I know.  It was to celebrate their first anniversary and moving into their first home.   I feel it fits my theme for this post of new beginnings.

The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us.  It takes place throughout November.  It’s been running for a couple of years now and very successful it is too.  So what’s so different this year?  I’ve decided to take the plunge … and I’ve already registered.  I enjoy a challenge and in particular one with a deadline, mainly because it gives more focus to the task in hand.  After all, how hard can it be to write a complete novel in a month?  Okay, I’m joking!

From what I’ve read about the whole ‘Nano‘ thing it’s accepted at the outset that the vast majority of entrants will have masses of issues with typos, dialogue, grammar etc., So what’s the point?  The point as far as I can see is that accepting the challenge enables an individual to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in a month – that’s 1,667 words per day if you’re not quick on mental arithmetic.  As mentioned previously, it will be ‘warts and all’, but the point is, it could be the foundation of a proper, stand alone book or first of a series.

I was reminded of the ‘Nano‘ as I read my friend Chloe’s blog recently.  It’s one of those things, like perhaps a marathon (yeah, done that), a person feels it’s their turn to tackle it.  Only minutes after deciding I would take it on I flicked through some of the poetry series’ I’ve written over the last couple of years.  The winner, if I can call him that is my character ‘The Hawk’.

My name on the ‘Nano‘ site will be, ‘Tom Benson – Writer and Storyteller’.    My novel for the purpose of the ‘Nano‘ will be called, ‘HAWK‘.

Phil McKenzie is an ex- SAS soldier who leaves the military because he’s become disillusioned by his military and political leaders’ decisions.  Within days of becoming a ‘civvy’ once again he witnesses so much criminality on the British streets that he feels an overwhelming desire to redress the situation on behalf of the victims.  ‘Hawk’ is the name adopted by Phil, a modern, self-styled and capable vigilante.

What makes me think I’m capable of this mammoth task?  Self belief for one thing and a strong desire to succeed, which as long as I don’t run out of coffee I’m sure I will.  ‘How about a plot line?’ I hear nobody in particular asking.  Within my poetry I have a mini-series I wrote called, ‘The Hawk’.  I intended it to be two or perhaps three episodes to experiment with the idea of series poetry.  ‘The Hawk’ gained popularity on ‘Starlite Cafe’ where my poems are posted under the pen-name Tomfoollery.  Hawk’s antics continued for 35 poems.  My intention is to draw from the episodes written in verse.

I’m already bubbling with enthusiasm and making notes for twists and turns in the adventures of ‘HAWK’.  It means that I will only have one short story ongoing, but that will have to be shelved until after this endeavor.  I want to totally immerse myself in this new venture.  If I find the time after today and throughout November I will make an effort to update my progress here.