Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Art of Short Story-telling....

So, what do you think? Can it be done? How easily? And do you really think your reader can be satified with only a hint of a story that might inspire a novel-length daydream? As someone who writes short stories often, I can tell you a few things. One, readers really DO love a tale that they can read in a half hour. Two, you're often asked for sequels when they find they do like what you've done.

Writing a short story is just a variation on a novel. You use the same formula - what's my opening, what happens in the middle, and how does it end? The trick is to not convolute a straight-forward plot with subtheme, and secondary people who make more than passing through appearances. Your story has to move at a steady but engaging pace. That's where most people hold the misconception. That a short story must move at breakneck speed to cram everything in. Why? A single well-structured and eloquent sentence can convey the same essence that a paragraph can, you just have to choose your words. Set your atmosphere by interactive dialogue, your time period can be established instantly with a question that might introduce your characters to each other.

Tips to keep in mind - a short story has to have an ending that finishes the immediate story you've chosen to tell, that doesn't mean you have to put a life into it, just a piece of one. Leave it open for a revisit if you really fall in love. But, you have to make these people real, even if you stretch a little bit with their situation. Few love affairs really happen as quickly as they do in a short story, but that's the fantasy element, and we allow for that just as our readers do.

Make your tension believeable, be it between hero and heroine, or caused by what is happening around them. It doesn't have to dominate more than one scene before it can be resolved.

Short stories are beginnings to wonderful journeys for the imagination. If you do it right, a reader will remember your people and their adventure for years. Just remember, description doesn't need to flow on and on, just set your mood and place. From there, let your characters do the rest for you.

I'd love to have any questions, and will answer them, so fire away!!! And thanks for listening....


Denysé BridgerWEBSITE: http://www.denysebridger.com/
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  1. You are the mistress of short stories! I looove reading them and hate when they end! :) Great advise!


  2. LOL I love doing shorts. Some folks say I've gotten it down to an art form :-) I like to think of it as looking through a window and seeing a snippet of a person's life :-)

    Good for you that you like writing them too!

  3. I'm torn on the whole shortstory thing; mainly as I love reading!
    I enjoy being taken away from the UK weather for just an afternoon, but sometimes, yeah I do feel a little bit cheated by a short story.
    Mainly as I like to ramble on.
    Like I am doing now....
    I supposed it depend on how short is a short story? I get confused by the whole novel/novella/short story/vignette/flash fiction thing - I just know the last three can be read in One-Cuppa-T time, the others take a whole pot...or two.
    LJ xx

  4. Denyse

    You've made some very valuable points here, and I agree with them all. This is a great piece.