Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments E. V. Slate
PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

While initially it was a thrill to have one of my stories chosen for the Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, in the end I am most glad for my characters, who deserve attention besides my own and whom I hope seem as alive to readers as they once did to me.

(author photo © Hwang Miin)

Writing Tips

Unlike a drawing held up to a mirror in order to see it afresh, time seems to be the only way to get distance from a story—letting the visual dream fade so that only the words are left, which is all the reader will have to go by when he or she first picks up the story. When you achieve that much clarity, or forgetfulness, you'll be able to see where the story needs work without having to seek anyone else's advice.

However, this requires an almost unbearable amount of patience, a quality I only wish I had and one I detect in my favorite short—story writers such as Alice Munro. In equal measure I think it also takes integrity, and even disinterest, to improve the story for its own sake despite the ambitious and swaggering impulses that may have fuelled the initial draft. When I feel like an artisan or a cobbler during the revision process I think I must be on the right track, fashioning something of quality that may be out of style or favor but which has its own sense of proportion, balance and some sort of necessity.

About the Author

E. V. Slate's short stories have appeared in Best New American Voices 2005, Crazyhorse, and the New England Review. She currently lives and works in Singapore.

Writer's Desk

  • I started work on a novel that has subsequently fragmented into linked short stories. The course of my character's life seems to fit better into discrete segments, much like my own.

  • Writer's Desk

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