January 23, 2010

A New Challenge: The Short Story

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White
 In studying the short story, I found this to be very true. This is the challenge. I am a novice, but I took notes.
  • Have a clear theme
  • Begin as close to the conclusion as possible
  • Grab the reader from the first line
  • conserve characters and scene... one problem, one drive
I found this site, of all the places I researched, to be the most helpful, and this idea stayed in my mind:
Your job, as a writer of short fiction--whatever your beliefs--is to put complex personalities on stage and let them strut and fret their brief hour. Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value--that will, in Chekhov's words, "make [man] see what he is like." -Rick Demarnus
You may have less than 5000 words to make your character beloved, or hated, the conflict mean something to the reader, and a resolution that resonates. Yikes.
As one who tends to drag out my endings because I just... can't... let... my story... go...  (and so my editors ask me to chop them off) I found this advice very encouraging:
In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently.
I understood that. I could envision it with my idea.

Accepting a short story challenge was exciting to me. I still prefer the novel, the juicy details and telling dialogue. But I really liked the 'get to it' feeling of writing the short story. As with anything new you put out in front of others, I am nervous about feedback. But I enjoyed what I learned. I'll try to remember that after the critique.


David J. West said...

Looking forward to reading it.

M. Gray said...

I'm excited to read yours!! The fact that you've studied and applied this means you're ahead of some. I have one I will submit but it was my THIRD try for the contest and a friend who's looked every draft pointed out some won't like my take, but others might like it. *sigh* We write what we can.

Elana Johnson said...

I'm glad you like the short. I find them terribly difficult to write. I do like "Start as close to the conclusion as you can." Maybe I should try again?


Krista said...

Thanks, for your encouragement David and M. It's great to be counted among blogger friends... and we do write what we can. We can't help it!
Elana, writing the short is so different from the novel! I agree, it is more difficult. I did like the challenge, and would do it again for a contest like this one, but I don't think I would do it just because. I much prefer the longer word count!

Kate said...

Thanks for the info. I've been debating entering because I've never studied the art of writing a short story before. I'll have to check out your link. Thanks.

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