Voices of the Present dares to bring you a little something different to the table today. I am working on a short story course and I thought (by chance) some of you may just benefit from the course as well.
“A novel is a daily labor of love over a period of years. A novel is job. But a story can be like a mad, lovely visitor, with whom you spend a rather exciting weekend.”-Lorrie Moore
In writing a short story, you can be bolder, wilder, than you might dare be with a novel where you’re buckled in for the long hual. The brevity of the form of short stories allows for experimentation. You can write lots of short stories, and try lots of different things.
Some authors are famous mainly for their short stories. They include: Alice Munro, Flannery O’Conner, Charles Baxter, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Mary Robison, John Cheever, and Kelly Link. This is only to name a few.
If you are like me, and are interested in publishing your fiction, short stories may be a good way to start. There are many literary magazines that publish short stories. There is a searchable directory here: https://www.pw.org/literarty_magazines
Publishing our short stories in magazines may allow us to build a trach record as a professional author that can also attract the attention of literary agents.
I CAN ONLY ADVISE YOU AS I AM BEING ADVISED IN MY COURSE.
As we sit down to write the first draft of our story, it states that it is probably not helpful to think too much about story-writing technique.
The teaches advised not to worry about coming up with a great beginning or writing nice sentences. We will deal with all of that later, during the revision stage.
Our first draft is for generating raw material. To turn off the analytical, judging part of our brains and tap into our imaginations. To try to lose ourselves in the daydream of the story.
I ASK YOU TO JOIN ME AS I WORK THROUGH THE FIRST ASSIGNMENT, AS I HAVE GIVEN IT TO YOU FOR FREE.
We are to throw a problem at a character and see what happens.
STEP 1: Choose a name for your character. Then, imagine some more details about this person, such as:
- physical description
- positive personality traits
- negative personality traits
STEP 2: Come up with three ideas for problems the character might face.
- lost cat
- inappropriate feelings for his mother-in-law
- ghost haunting her attic
STEP 3: Choose one of the problem ideas, and make it as specific as possible. (If your idea is aready specific, you can skip this step)
- If the problem is low self-esteem a more specific version might be: “wants to ask out the barrista at his local coffee house, but can’t believe any woman would ever be interested in him.”
- If the problem is money trouble, a more specific version might be: “lost her job, needs rent money in one week to avoid eviction.”
STEP 4: How might your character react to the problem? Come up with three ideas.
STEP 5: Now, pick one of the ideas from step 4. The character is doing it. Take a few minutes to imagine the scene. Play it like a movie in your head.
STEP 6: Now, you’re going to write one sentence about something in the scene you just imagined. This sentence should either describe a physical action, or else it should be a line of dialogue.
STEP 7: The sentence you wrote for step 6 is going to be the first line of a story. It’s okay if it comes from the middle or the end of a scene! Use it as your starting point, and see what happens.
I ASK YOU TO JOIN ME IN THIS PROCESS AND COME UP WITH IDEAS TOGETHER. WE CAN LEARN THIS PROCESS TOGETHER.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST AND WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE WORKING THROUGH THESE LESSONS WITH ME LEAVE A COMMENT.