#Issue 1

Scratch That Newsletter

The team at Scratch That are excited to present our first exclusive newsletter: a bi-weekly collection of extra fun tasters, tips, tricks and content you won’t find anywhere else. As a magazine wanting to publish high quality original work, we strive to keep our readers inspired, engaged and ready to start their creative day no matter how far away our launch is. So, to keep you feeling fulfilled in between issues, the newsletter team will be providing the content you need to satisfy your Scratch That cravings.

­­­­­­­­­This week has a creating focus, so read ahead and enjoy from Scratch That’s newsletter team.

Enjoy! From Amber and the rest of the Newsletter team.

Keeping it Short
Jack Bell

As artists, we seem to be forever stuck with the curse of inspiration. Our ideas practically burst out of us, trying to find their own life and space to breathe while we run just to catch up.

Writing is hard, but I’m far from the first writer to think that writing short fiction can feel almost impossible to do satisfactorily, especially when you have such a small canvas to put your big ideas onto. In your head your ideas are limitless, so how could it ever be possible to put all of that on the page?

Scratch That magazine, like most other national literary journals and assignments in university courses, has a maximum length for writing at 2000 words. If it has ever seemed difficult to try and write something at this length—and even harder to be satisfied with it—then I’m sure I can offer just a few tips in this article for writing short fiction within what seems like a narrow word count.

First, it’s helpful to try and keep in mind the meaning of short fiction. Novels have room to breathe, characters to develop, plots that arc and twist. Short stories are just that—short. They’re snapshots of people or places in a particular time; microcosms of life that don’t have to adhere to three-act structures. Truly successful short stories should operate under the tenet of minimalism rather than maximalism. We don’t all have to be Raymond Carver of course, but we should always keep in mind how the power of suggestion can be more satisfying than anything else.

To be successful in executing an idea of short fiction, you must make sure you think of an idea that hints at rather than outright depicts. As Billy Wilder once said, if you let your reader put two and two together on their own, they’ll think that it’s you who’s the genius.

Another trick with managing length is to try and plan a projected word limit for each scene and stick to it—you might worry that this could come out with a piece of writing that’s stiff and unnatural, but overwriting and making hasty cuts at the end can lead to an even less natural feeling. Life and detail can always be put in during the edit stage, but cuts will always be removing that life.

Something else I myself have always found helpful when stuck with an overlong draft is to try and adapt the story into a short film screenplay to create a fresh perspective of where its faults are. A film script by its nature must be more direct, so you’ll find yourself naturally pruning the unnecessary parts of your writing to make the story fit within the means of visual storytelling. Then you can re-adapt the script back into fiction based on your edits. You’ll have a story much more streamlined and direct in its approach than you did before.

If you’re still worried about your story becoming too long or cumbersome for a short format, it can be helpful to go back to your initial idea and think about what form it could naturally belong to instead. Are there too many characters or scenes? Is the plot too complex or the relationship web too broad? If so, maybe it can be grown into a novel instead.

I’ve always known if an idea is wrong for its format, because I’ve always felt that discomfort radiating off the page. If this is the case, then there’s no shame in scrapping your work, especially if it will only take more time and effort in trying to desperately restructure it. You can try and fix an engine, but you should always check if it’s in the wrong car in the first place.

But when you come up with that natural short story idea and start putting it down on the page, you’ll know it belongs there because it’ll feel just that perfectly snug.

QUT Literary Salon is Back! 

Anahita Ebrahimi

The Lit Salon wishes to thank everyone for joining us on our wild ride through self-isolation in Semester one. The writing challenges were a fun way to keep the creative juices flowing and we appreciate your support whilst we waited to settle on a venue for the remainder of this year’s salons!

Our GREEN salon is here, and we invite you to join us at The Grove on Monday 24 August at 4 p.m. to hear our soon-to-be-announced student readers, and the wonderful Rohan Wilson who will be our featured guest reader for the night. We’ve got a little bit of everything on Monday – memoir, poetry, heartache, anger and some shenanigans at a zoo. Due to social distancing requirements, numbers will be limited and we encourage you to arrive on time, so you don’t miss out on a seat! We will be live on Instagram for those who wish to join from home – make sure you’re following us at @qutlitsalon.

If you missed out on submitting to GREEN, don’t stress. We’ll be opening submissions in week 6 for September’s PRIDE salon. To keep up to date with our salons, make sure you like us on Facebook. Students from all faculties are encouraged to submit. We want your memoirs, your monologues, your inside jokes… we welcome all creative works. The team is made up of students and we’re always up for a chat so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you had any questions.

Mixed Bag Writing Prompts
With Adam Osborne

# spies revamped
 
Could you breathe new life into a tired genre?
There are so many ways to reimagine the classic story genre tropes:
 
Consider what a spy movie would look like in a fantasy setting. What if, instead of a tech wizard, an actual wizard assisted the team, with potions and enchanted objects instead of gadgets? How about a mission where the man is forced to act as the distraction instead of the woman, who then gets to be the action star? What if the lead was a nun? Or a robot?
 
The possibilities are endless.
# orange tree
 
Write from the perspective of a sentient orange tree
 
Maybe it's planted in a family's backyard, watching conflict and growth and change happen through its impartial lens.

Maybe it's in unrequited love with a human or a squirrel or a bee who it can't visit because it must stay where it was planted.

Maybe it's a misguided, evil orange tree, spreading its seeds to grow more and more children so that it can take over the world.


 
# deck of cards
 
Draw three cards from a deck.
 
The first card is the protagonist.
 
The second is the conflict.
 
The final card is the protagonist's goal.
 
Maybe hearts mean something emotional; diamonds something valuable, spades something grim, and clubs something communal. That’s totally up to you! Go as crazy or as realistic as you want.
 
Confused? Here’s an example: you draw the seven of clubs, the eight of diamonds and the ten of diamonds. You make your protagonist a seven-year-old captain of the hockey team. She has had eight items confiscated from her and her friends, and she won't stop until she gets back what is rightfully hers, plus a little interest.
That's all for today's newsletter taster! Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of Scratch That's next Issue, it may be sooner than you think.