THE ART FORM OF SHORT STORIES

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.

WRITING PROCESS:

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.

ASSIGNMENT:

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:

  • age
  • profession
  • physical description
  • positive personality traits
  • negative personality traits

STEP 2: Come up with three ideas for problems the character might face.

EXAMPLES:

  • 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)

EXAMPLES:

  • 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.

STRUGGLES

Ok guys, I had a week long full of family struggles. I’m sure you all have been through the same. We are a community and we should support one another and not forget to reach out and be there. I found a short story I wanted to share with you.

THE BUTTERFLY

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.

One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Until it suddenly stoppeeed making progress and looked like it was stuck.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man didn’t think anything of it and say there waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

Despite the kind heart of the man, he didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening; were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings to prepare itself for flying once it was out of the cocoon.

MORAL:

Our struggles in life develop our strengths. Without struggles, we never grow and never get stronger.

To Jump or Not

In a day and age, where there is war, there are rising prices, there is isolation due to the Coronavirus, and we all have our eyes glued to social media; In a time when our mental health is being challenged I offer you this:

THE GROUP OF FROGS (ENCOURAGEMENT)

As a group of frogs was traveling through the woods, two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, the told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them. However the two frogs decided to ignore whatthe others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit. Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out.

Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said,

“Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

I offer you the moral of this story:

People’s words can have a big effect on other’s lives. Think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth. It might just be the difference between life and death.

Encourage those around you to fight for their life. To embrace that which gives them light and hope. As a community it is our job to lift those who otherwise may give up and let defeat and death take hold.

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