Four ways to write a short story ending

The other day, I ran into Eva Crocker and Susie Taylor and we got to talking about short story endings. They’re so tricky to write, I complained. To which Susie said: Yeah, there are only so many times you can end a story with someone dying or getting on a plane.

Ending a novel is infinitely easier than ending a short story. Actually, almost everything about the craft of writing is easier in long vs. short form. Regardless, here are four ways to end a short story:

Read more

A trick for dialogue

Recently, I was having trouble writing a scene. In this scene a man and a woman are having an argument. The scene is third person, past tense, from the woman’s point of view. So I knew more or less what she was going to say, her motivations, her fears, her desires, but I had no clue how the man would respond. Or, more specifically, I knew how he would respond but his exact dialogue and body language, all of that was a question mark.

Read more

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The Boat People has won the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction! (Yes, THAT Harper Lee). I’m so grateful to Doubleday for putting the book forward and to the jurors who obviously have a very refined literary palate. Also: the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal who administer and sponsor the prize. These things are a lot of work and labours of love.

Late next month, I’ll be accepting the award at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. (I KNOW. IT’S WILD) In addition to a speech, there will be an on-stage conversation between myself and the jurors. We’ll be talking about To Kill a Mockingbird and my book and probably politics and refugees.

Refugee law, and in particular, the perfectly legal and legitimate process of coming to the border and seeking asylum, is a situation that is woefully misunderstood by the general public. It doesn't help that so many Canadian politicians - many of them lawyers by training - willfully and purposely lie. Fiction can be the antidote, translating the letter of the law into a compelling plot and using imagined characters to show readers the truth. The truth is so important. This is a federal election year and now more than ever we all have a duty to tell the truth. Loudly. And as often as possible. Awards give me and my book a soap box and a megaphone. For these gifts, I’m incredibly grateful.