Lisa Biggar: A Good Story

As fiction editor of Little Patuxent Review I am often asked, “What do you look for?” The answer to that is: a good story. But what is a good story? We all have different tastes, different opinions, but what makes art Art? What is it that elevates a piece from okay to good? The fiction readers for LPR tend to agree on about ten stories out of the hundreds we receive each reading period. What is it that elevates these pieces?

I would say that first and foremost is the voice. The voice of the narrative—be it first, third, or second point-of-view—must engage the reader. The voice must draw us in and transport us, make us believe that the story is well worth the read, that there is indeed a story to tell that matters, that will enlighten us in some way. In short, it must make us believe.

Lisa Biggar

Second, the story must come off as seamless—as one breath. This does not mean that a story must be written all at once. When you write you are tapping into the imagination, the subconscious, the muse, and this can be exhausting; so shorter writing periods, I believe, are more effective than extended sessions. But it is important to stay in the dream, to return to that story each day, even if it is just to review what you have already written. Too often stories seem to lose steam or an ending is tacked on for the sake of ending the piece. In my own writing, I find endings to be the trickiest thing, as they need to come organically from the piece, and this often takes time. Writers are so eager to get that story out there, to hit that Submit button, that they do not give that ending time to manifest. I can’t stress how important it is to give your story time. Worlds are not made in a day.

Lastly, good stories are complex. Complex characters. Complex, often layered plots. We are not looking for rewrites of the Hallmark Channel movies. Love stories are fine, but the characters must be ones we haven’t seen before, and their trials must be unique to them. The same holds true for stories that deal with sickness and death; write us a story we don’t know, that we have never heard before. There are only so many themes in the world, but the takes on these themes are boundless. Consider the four stories published in the Summer 2017 issue of LPR; all of these stories deal with loss in very unique ways.

Finally, a good story stays with us. It embeds itself in our hearts. It touches that something we call soul and becomes an everlasting part of us. That may sound like a daunting task, but if you continue to hone your craft and give the creation time, you may surprise yourself again and again.

Bio: Lisa Lynn Biggar is the fiction editor for LPR.  She received her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is currently working on a short story cycle set on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals including Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review, Newfound, The Other Stories Podcast, and is forthcoming in the winter issue of The Delmarva Review. She teaches English at Chesapeake College and co-owns and operates a cut flower farm on the eastern shore of Maryland with her husband and four cats.

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Celebrating 10 Years in Print

This past Sunday, Little Patuxent Review celebrated 10 years of publication by hosting a reading at The Writer’s Center. Thank you to The Writer’s Center and everyone who attended and made the event a success.

Readers included Steven Leyva who introduced each speaker, but also read a selection of his own work, several poems and a selection of an early manuscript. Steven Leyva is also the co-creator of Kick Assonance, and his work has been published in the Light Ekiphrasis, Welter, and The Cobalt Review. Currently, he is the head Editor at Little Patuxent Review.

Emily Rich, who has written for r.kv.r.y, the Delmarva Review, and The Pinch, read a non-fiction selection from her piece “Retrieving my Belongings,” currently only available in the Delmarva Review. Her work has appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Best American Essays and she is the current Non-Fiction Editor of Little Patuxent Review and an editor for the Delmarva Review.

Also reading was new Fiction Editor, Lisa Lynn Biggar, and Desirée Magney, board member of Little Patuxent Review. Both read longer selections of their work. Lisa Lynn Biggar’s work has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review , and Newfound, and she currently teaches English at Chesapeake College. Desirée Magney is a former attorney and writes poetry and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in bioStoriesBethesda Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Jellyfish Whispers, among others.

Joseph Ross closed the event with a reading with various poems, including “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God,” winner of the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize.

We hope to see you all again for Little Patuxent Review’s 11th anniversary.

Turning Over a New Leaf

After more than a year as a fantastic online editor for Little Patuxent Review, Deborah Kevin is moving on to new adventures. All of us as at LPR want to thank her for all her hard work improving LPR’s website, sharing interesting and informative blogposts, expanding LPR’s outreach on social media, and much more than what can be listed here. We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors and she will remain a part of the LPR family helping behind the scenes as a fiction reader.

At the same time, Little Patuxent Review has added some new names to the masthead. Taking on the position of online editor is Jessica Flores. Lisa Lynn Biggar is our new fiction editor and Dominique Cahn enters the role of nonfiction editor. Emily Rich has transitioned from nonfiction editor to deputy editor.

If I could take a few moments to talk about myself, taking on the post of online editor is both daunting and exhilarating. While I am excited to take on the mantle of online editor, I wonder if I can live up to the example Deborah has left behind. Deborah has been supportive in helping me transition into her former role, and I hope that I can live up to the precedence she leaves. It has only been a few weeks, but already everyone at LPR has been so kind and supportive.

I graduated from American University last year with a bachelor’s in literature. I recently completed an internship at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and my hope is to make this blog an active forum for the artistic and literary community. I enjoy any type of fiction, be it genre fiction, short stories, novels, or flash fiction.

One of my fondest memories of my undergraduate studies was the sense of community built around my university’s student literary magazine. During review sessions, everyone took time out of their own schedules, usually weekends or after class, to get together and go over submissions for the upcoming print issue. Sometimes these sessions were late at night in the middle of the week or during prime weekend hours when the campus classrooms felt deserted without the usual student body walking about. There was a sense that each piece deserved equal attention during review, but also that everyone present deeply cared about the quality of the magazine and what it represented about the work generated on our campus. Even though I am out of school, I sense a similar but even larger sense of community with LPR.

If I can foster even a sense of that type of community through this blog, then I think I’ve done my job.

Feel free to reach out to the LPR staff through comments and suggestions for future blog posts or the content you would like to see on our blog. Submissions are open for LPR’s themed Winter 2017 issue. Submit your work today.