• The WBN Story Club Returns! (Maybe)

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 44 comments

    TL;DR version: If you’re interested in being a member of the WBN story club, read on! If you’re not, well, there ain’t much point in you reading on. Here’s what I’m looking for input on: What kinds of stories should we read? Is one story and discussion per month a casual enough pace? What would you be looking to get out of such a club? Let us know in the comments below. If you don’t have any input but are interested in joining the club, just leave a comment saying “In.”


    A couple of weeks ago, when I asked to hear about your favorite books and favorite movies about writers and such, I also extended the idea of reviving the years-dormant WBN Book Club, resurrecting it as a short story club instead.

    A few of you expressed interest, with a desire to learn more before committing.

    So what follows is what I envision for this story club. I’d also very much like to get your input and ideas, because this will be a group thing. (Kinky.)

    If enough of you are interested in this idea, we’ll give ‘er a whirl.

    If you don’t have any ideas on any of this, but you want to be involved, simply comment “In.”



    Some of you were worried about the time commitment. Me too! So let’s start there. I’m thinking that together we will read one short story per month and then discuss it here on the blog. I don’t imagine any story will exceed 5,000 words, and many will be significantly shorter.

    i.e., the stories can be read in one sitting.

    I’ll publish a post here on the blog linking to that month’s story. I’ll talk a (very little) bit about why I picked it, and then lay out some potential discussion questions.

    You read the story at your own pace.

    Whenever you’re ready to jump into the conversation, jump in. Even if it’s weeks later.



    What kinds of stories? My vote would be for as much of a mix as possible. Literary fiction, sci-fi, mystery/romance, whatever. Any and all.

    Maybe even some nonfiction here and there, an essay or a piece of journalism. Any interest in that? Or do we want fiction only?

    Contemporary only, or do we want some older stuff as well?

    Are we interested in stories in translation, or English only?

    Either way, we’ll select a mix of men and women of all races and approaches.

    One idea is for me to throw out a few story options each month and crowdsource (did I use that word right?!) a selection.

    But I’m open to suggestions on all of this. I’m also open already to specific stories, if you have something in mind. Leave your thoughts below.



    What would be the point of this story club? I see a few good reasons to give it a try.

    1. To read and discuss great writing. Because who doesn’t enjoy doing that?

    2. To learn something about writing. Because that’s kind of why we’re all here, right?

    3. To connect with fellow writers/readers through the discussions. Because why else do we join clubs?

    Do you have any to add? What’s your reason(s) for joining the club?


    Your Turn

    To summarize, I want your input on all of these matters:

    Time: Does one short story (<5,000 words) and discussion per month sound just about right?

    Type: What kinds of genres and writers are you most interested in?

    Purpose: What are you hoping to get out of this?

    Or again, if you don’t have anything to add but do want to be part of the club, just leave a comment saying “In.”

    Come on, friends, let’s get all nerdy together.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and has written for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”


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    Mark H.

    In, and FIRST.

    Mark H.

    Also “group thing,” ew.

    John Liebling

    Sounds like a lot of fun. All of the above is a great idea. Exposure to good writing, intellectual blogging, sharing ideas about fiction and non-fiction. I would prefer English only. Though that is not a deal breaker. I don’t trust the translation – who did that – could be infected with bias? I love historical what if stories? Change a single event and see what happens. This feels like a good way to take a short break from my own writing. Inspiration comes in many forms and that spark can hit us while dreaming, or by way of good… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Sounds good, John. Thanks. (And I’ll mark you as a no vote for translation.)



    David Duhr

    Ava, yay! Welcome back. Glad to have you in the club.


    I’m in. Once a month sounds right. We could also do a novella from time to time. I wouldn’t be too strict on the 5,000 words. I would prefer a lot of variety as long as it’s good literature. Old stuff. New stuff. Translation. Journalism. All of it.

    Stephen C

    I’m in. And I agree with everything Teresa says here. I would prefer surveying excellence through a variety of fiction and non-fiction voices than the political category, David, you highlighted above in bold. But if we have to get political, I would hope we choose translated works from another culture than read underrepresented voices within our own we all have access to anyway through the English language. I am looking forward to your selections and to read everyone’s thoughts on them. Cheers.

    David Duhr

    Glad to have you, Stephen. I’m not talking quotas or anything. But neither do I want to trot out the same kind of story again and again from the same kind of writer. That’s all I’m saying. And I’m definitely not talking about reading content (fiction or non) that’s political. I’d much prefer we not do that, because the discussion could degenerate quickly. I think we’ll figure out our way as we go along. But any suggestions you have, whether about content or process or just some titles, pass ’em along.

    David Duhr

    Sounds good, Teresa. Any novellas (novellae?) in mind? That’s not a bad idea. We might lose some participants for that round, but hey. It should be interesting to discuss how novella strategies are different than short story strategies.


    Hi David! I was thinking of “The Turn of the Screw” when I mentioned novellas. I think we are more likely to find novellas among foreign literature. The short mystery novels (about 160 pages) of Georges Simenon come to mind. His work might be a good choice if our book group wants a diversionary field trip from the short stories. After being taken aback by the preference for NOT translated literature on this blog, I’ve come to the realization that much of what I read is by international authors. If you want a damn good description of Detroit, read the… Read more »

    Emily K. Martin

    I’m IN. And interested in variety. Would love to see what techniques are identified as strong writing.

    Kenneth Harris

    I’m in. Perhaps take a look at some classic stuff as well as nonfiction journalism. Let me just rummage around in my cliche bag here; truth is (by far) stranger than fiction.

    David Duhr

    Thanks for bringing up classic stuff. I’m not sure if I covered that or not, but yeah, we should decide if we want to read only contemporary writing or if we want to explore other eras. I think eventually, if this goes well, we’ll reach a point where I’m sending out a list of 5-10 options for each round, and the story we choose is simply a matter of what gets the most votes.

    Barbara Mealer

    I’m in. I love reading new and different things. This will also help our writing as you mentioned. I have been dabbling in the short story arena to improve my writing and what better way to perfect the short story than reading and dissecting them.

    Bonnie West

    I am IN! love this idea. let’s do it!!!


    IN – one short story, article, non-fiction piece – all is good as long as I learn, understand and spread my wings.

    Dana Frank



    Any genre, why limit that? But some topics, I hope not to see…., in fact it’s my intention to use your short story as my methadone from reading about current events and anything with P, M,T,U,R letters in the heading, (necessarily in another more specific order). Yeah, I admit it, I’m in recovery, I need help, looking the for halfway house to nature; literature. And a daily dose of serenity prayer and three OMs should do it. Oh yeah, and cappuccino from Cafe Medici sounds good too, or would you not be supplying that? If not, then, well, let me… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Ha, yeah. Unless P, M, T, U, R writes a short story that we can learn from, his name probably shan’t come up.

    We won’t be supplying the coffee, but we do welcome participation from all Cafe Medici locations, including our former stomping grounds.

    Dan Van Ginhoven

    As a WBN “graduate” of a couple of years ago, I now have two books published and interested in starting a historical novel, so count me “IN”.

    David Duhr

    Welcome aboard, Dan! It’s very good to hear from you.




    Oh, yeah. Count me in. I was hoping you’d do something like this.

    David Duhr

    We aim to please. Any ideas about this, send ’em my way!

    Jivan Parnell

    Definitely IN. Once a month and roughly 5000 words is perfect. All genres and styles. Not overly keen on translations (depends on the source). The more I read, the more I learn. Great idea

    David Duhr

    Hi Jivan. Glad to have you in. Thanks!


    sounds interesting. like the idea of shorter pieces right now. any genre (and including translations) OK by me.

    Bonnie Wulff


    Eleanor Gamarsh

    Scanned all the comments before I got here. Chuckled over lagarto’s input. The only type I’d have a problem reading is R rated. Translations could be interesting. I have read some. If they are professionally translated to English, possibly good reading. But foreign author writing English can be awkward reading. Anyway, I’m IN, expecting to have an interesting and enlightening experience contributing to my writing skill. (Dan Van Ginhoven influenced, and 2nd Barbara and Emily.)

    David Duhr

    Sounds good, Eleanor. Thanks. And welcome aboard! I’ll post a warning if any story is R- (or more-) rated.

    Glynis Jolly

    This sounds great and once per month is perfect. Probably all of us have our prefferences on gernes so why not just mix it up so everyone gets a little of what they want.

    As to what I want out of this is to learn where my strengths and weakness are in my own writing, not only from the short stories but from the discussions. Also, if possible I want to learn how to strengthen those weakness and capitalize on those aspects I do well at.

    Julie Frey

    In. What a great idea!

    Rod McHugh

    While not being desirous to join any club that would have me as a member, I shall nonetheless consent to being a member of this endeavor. I’m in. Hello, I must be gong.

    Arabella Aisling



    This sounds interesting. This would be my first time participating in a writing/reading group. I would love to see what other people consider good short stories and why. Count me in.


    IN. This sounds like fun as well as being helpful. I like the idea of a mix of types and short stories make it manageable.

    David Duhr

    OK, gang. Between this and email responses, it seems like we have more than enough participants to make this happen. Thank you for all of your interest.

    I imagine that I’ll post the first story in early May. The first few rounds might show some growing pains, but eventually we’ll settle into a process and pattern.

    Now all we need is a slogan!

    Dot Day

    IN–if we try our hands at writing a short story–an intimidating project to me–, could we also share for feedback?

    Eleanor Gamarsh

    I decided to review what’s been happening with the latest comments on the Book Club. i was wondering if the discussion would be primarily to learn about writing, ie., different styles, opinions of good, bad or indifferent, sort of stuff. or discussion of the subject matter. Maybe, on second thought, “all of the above”? I’ve never participated in a Book Club so my query may sound stupid to some people. But in my defence, a professor told me a long time ago,”The only stupid question is the one not asked.”


    Great question Eleanor! and I agree no inquiry is stupid – ever – usually everyone is wondering the same thing so it takes courage to ask. I imagine the conversations will flow organically. Inquiring minds need to know. :)

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x