Beginning. Middle. End. The arc is a journey, as powerful as a fly ball traveling from a Louisville Slugger to the bleachers, or as graceful as the stretch of a rainbow after a July storm. In fiction, arc is “the rise and fall of dramatic tension,” the transformation of plot and character throughout the course of a story.
Mason’s Road is dedicated to showcasing great writing and exploring the elements of craft. Last summer, our inaugural issue focused on voice, while the second issue highlighted setting. While reading submissions for our third issue, we often found that the best stories not only featured a dramatic arc, our theme, but also had strong voices and touches of setting.
After considering almost 200 submissions, our favorite stories include:
- A grandmother’s death that changes the trajectory of a young man’s life in “Dance Over the Dirt”
- A husband who feels it’s his job to keep his wife from trying to commit suicide; he knew she was “Especially Far From Me” after she swallowed a bottle of pills, but he’s tiring of the constant sacrifice and vigilance
- “HUSB 110” is not listed in any course catalog, but is a class in which a housewife who works part-time in a college bookstore learns a few unique lessons about her husband, herself, and their marriage
- A twist on the hardboiled detective story, where crime takes a back seat in a story about the relationship between two F.B.I. agents who show why you should “Never Shoot an Agent”
- The “Rules of a Roma” which are shared by the narrator who reveals the hopelessness and despair of his own life and that of his people
- A cashier in a fabrics store who handles a robbery with poignancy and humor in “Shake Sugaree”
- The hunter who becomes the hunted in “Stalkerazzi,” when a Hollywood actress seeks revenge by turning her camera on a paparazzo
These stories surprised us, made us laugh, and broke our hearts – sometimes all on the same page. The readers recognized the arcs, along with unique plot lines, vivid description, strong characterization, and plain old good writing. These are the stories that stayed with us. We hope they stay with you.
Phil Lemos & Jean Medeiros