David H. Safford

Author & Story Coach

How I, a Former Judge, Won a Short Story Contest

Honorable Mention counts, right?

First and foremost, props to the Grand Prize winner, Sef Churchill and her wildly imaginative story, “Porthole.” She should write her own (legitimate) version of this post.

But my Honorable Mention was included in the “Congratulations to the Winners” email – and I call that #WINNING!

So here’s how I did it, and how you can too. Continue reading “How I, a Former Judge, Won a Short Story Contest”


Featured Winner at “Short Fiction Break!”

“The Warmth of Blankets” is the featured story at Short Fiction Break today!

If you haven’t yet, give it a read and leave a comment!

As always, thank you so much for reading. It means the world to me!

Reason Readers Quit #7: No Personal Stakes

We have a story problem.

Not a grade school math class “story problem,” but a problem with our stories that is turning many of us into bad writers (with fleeing readers).

And by spending millions of our hard-earned dollars at the box office, we’re only have ourselves to blame.  Continue reading “Reason Readers Quit #7: No Personal Stakes”

Reason Readers Quit #6: No Authentic Conflict

In 2004, I wrote and produced a play. I was convinced it was brilliant

(It wasn’t).

I was especially proud of all the conflict between its two main characters, believing that this made the play an honest portrayal of life’s complicated issues.

When it debuted, I hoped that my friend and professional actor, Landon, would be mightily impressed.

(He wasn’t).   Continue reading “Reason Readers Quit #6: No Authentic Conflict”

“The Warmth of Blankets” – Winner of Honorable Mention!

After many nights hiding in the hot, lonely swamps of the Deep South, Celestine and her daughter decide to risk staying at an unproven Underground Railroad Station. “The Warmth of Blankets” is the story of their terrifying and heroic trip into the home of a white farmer that may, or may not, be worthy of their trust. 

Read “The Warmth of Blankets,” winner of Honorable Mention in the 2017 Spring Fiction Contest (hosted by The Write Practice and Short Fiction Break), here! Continue reading ““The Warmth of Blankets” – Winner of Honorable Mention!”

“Pulled” – A Short Story

“The Pull is an annual tug-of-war contest held across the Black River. It is one of the nation’s oldest standing college traditions. Competitors are 36 members of both the freshman and sophomore class.”

– Hope College website Continue reading ““Pulled” – A Short Story”

Why Readers Quit #5: No Resistence

I love The Lord of the Rings. 

I fell in love at 17 when I saw The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater, and I immediately picked up the books.

I trust I’m not alone. Authors of great fantasy like Tolkien, Rowling, Martin, and more, fill our shelves and our imaginations. Continue reading “Why Readers Quit #5: No Resistence”

Why Readers Quit #4: No Flaw

I want you to meet Tim.

Tim is a well-meaning, energetic writer – probably just like you.

But (hopefully) unlike you, Tim writes stories that are deeply flawed. And he isn’t alone. A lot of amateur writers make the same mistake, and its killing their readership.

Are you?

Continue reading “Why Readers Quit #4: No Flaw”

Memoir: How to Climb a Mountain

Clambering over the mountain ridge’s craggy black teeth, the fire tower finally came into view. I paused and wiped my brow and managed a smile. The sight of it did nothing to ease the burning in my knees. Continue reading “Memoir: How to Climb a Mountain”

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