Fiction Consultations with John Mauk

During the month of February, Black Lawrence Press author John Mauk is on board to critique fiction manuscripts.

John Mauk began professional life as a rhetorical theorist, then later acknowledged his literary reflexes. His fiction has appeared in journals such as SalamanderArts and LettersThe ForgeNew Millennium Writings, Main Street Rag; his nonfiction in RumpusBeatrice.com, and Writer’s Digest. He has two full-length story collections, Field Notes for the Earthbound and Where All Things Flatten (April, 2024). He was elected professor of the year at two different colleges. Now, after twenty-four years of teaching, he hosts Prose from the Underground, an emerging video series for active writers.

John is accepting everything from flash fiction to novels for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:

  • Flash fiction, up to 2 pages in length, $25
  • Short stories, up to 20 pages in length, $55
  • Chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $225
  • Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $425
  • Short story collections, up to 180 pages in length, $550
  • Novels, up to 300 pages in length, $795

All manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is February 29. John will complete his work and respond to all participants by March 31.

John will provide detailed comments on your manuscript as well as a cover letter. After receiving these files, participants who submit chapbooks and full-length manuscripts may also book phone/video conferences with John at no additional charge.

We’re delighted that so many of our alums have gone on to publish the work that they entrusted to our consultation program! Check out their publications and accolades here.

Consultations

Fiction Consultations with John Mauk

Click Here to Submit Deadline: February 29 How to submit ›

Statement of Purpose

Fiction writing is ballet on a tightrope. It’s fancy dancing on a slim line. All decisions and effort must blur away so the story itself becomes more alluring than the world beyond it. After all, readers are inclined toward the physical world: the one with air, water, food, friends, and cell phones. It takes immense energy and focus to make a story work—really work—so readers decide to ignore everything else. In short, no writer should go it alone.

Every writer I know calls upon comrades to read and review. In fact, successful writers are often insatiable workshoppers. But even with consistent up-close readers, we all benefit from an occasional faraway voice, someone unfamiliar yet invested—someone who’s detached but totally willing to help.

I’m willing to help. I consider myself a perpetual student of fiction. I’ve been studying, reading, and writing for years and still have consistent eureka moments. As a writer, I ask two basic questions. If I know the answer to the first, I begin working on the second:

  • What do the characters yearn for or need?
  • How can each scene fully render that yearning or need?

If the main characters’ yearning (in whatever form) is palpable, I’ve got a story. If each scene fully renders out that yearning, I’ve probably got a good story. From there, I can ask two more elemental questions:

  • Does the voice of the narrator keep us committed to the characters?
  • Does the pace of the narration keep us committed to the characters?

As a consultant, I will apply these four questions to your work. Of course, there are more issues: concerns about plot, setting, syntax, narrator placement, and so on, but the above four questions will drive my approach. I’ll offer scene-by-scene comments. I’ll say what makes me hope, wonder, worry, and cheer. I’ll offer suggestions for intensifying and attenuating. Also, I’ll say what the story is doing best because we all need affirmation. I look forward to reading whatever you might send.

John Mauk

John Mauk began professional life as a rhetorical theorist, then later acknowledged his literary reflexes. His fiction has appeared in journals such as SalamanderArts and LettersThe ForgeNew Millennium Writings, Main Street Rag; his nonfiction in RumpusBeatrice.com, and Writer’s Digest. He has two full-length story collections, Field Notes for the Earthbound and Where All Things Flatten (April, 2024). He was elected professor of the year at two different colleges. Now, after twenty-four years of teaching, he hosts Prose from the Underground, an emerging video series for active writers.

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How to Submit

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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