Black Lawrence Press

Fiction Consultations with Kelly Magee

During the month of August, Black Lawrence Press author Kelly Magee is offering consultations on full-length short story collections of up to 180 pages.

Manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in 12 point font. The fee for this consultation is $350.

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is August 31. Kelly will complete her work and respond to all program participants by September 30.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!

Click Here to Submit

Statement of Purpose

I’m most drawn to stories that have a sense of urgency – that feel like they needed to be written. Discovering subject matter that ignites the imagination is important, as is being willing to take risks with form and content. But channeling and sustaining that urgency is a matter of technique. Sometimes it’s what hovers around the edges of a story that is most vital, or sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right container to deliver the content. I am interested not just in where a story goes, but where else it might go: what submerged themes might surface, what layers might be more consciously developed, what surprising threads might emerge with a few well-placed cuts.

When working with a fiction manuscript, my first goal is analysis: what are the stories doing, what is their ambition, what are the reasons behind the choices and directions they’ve taken. Then I examine how are they working together as a collection/cohesive narrative. I strive to honor the ambition of the story or collection, and then to consider how it might more strongly fulfill its own goals. This can happen at the macro level, by examining plot, structure, character, setting, point of view, and scenes; or at the micro level, by sharpening word choice and sensory detail, attending to the musicality and pace of the sentences, and condensing the language. The work of revision is, as Heather Sellers says, to identify ways to intensify the experience for the reader…whatever that experience might be.

I’m delighted by work that blurs genre, finds the magic in the everyday, and uncovers the “consistent inconsistencies” in each character and setting. I love a story that asks me to sympathize with a villain or second-guess a hero. I am a particular fan of fabulism and fairy tales, as well as realist work of all genres that addresses identity and intersectionality (such as recent work by Kelly Link, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Diane Cook, and Maggie Nelson). In my own writing, I gravitate toward difficult characters and questions, especially as approached irreverently or with humor. I favor active settings that don’t just channel characters’ emotions but influence the plot. And while I enjoy playing with unconventional points of view and experimental forms, my fidelity is always to the well-told story.

Above all, the experience of reading a work of fiction is a relationship between the reader and the text, one built, as Michael Chabon says, on “mutual support through intertwining, like a pair of trees grown together.” My job is to support your text through careful analysis of its aims and pleasures, and by proposing ways to heighten the experience of reading it.

By Kelly Magee

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

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Upcoming Consultations

November — NaNoWriMo! We’ll have a great crew of experienced fiction writers on hand to critique your-in progress novel.

 

Kelly Magee

Kelly Magee is the author of Body Language (UNT Press 2006), winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize, With Animal (Black Lawrence Press 2015), co-written with Carol Guess, and The Neighborhood, forthcoming from Gold Wake Press, as well as several collaborative books of prose and poetry. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, Booth, Barrelhouse, and others. She teaches in the undergraduate and MFA programs at Western Washington University and can be found at kellyelizabethmagee.com.

Magee Author page