Who is the audience?
Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! John Dufresne June 7, The short story is the art of abbreviation. If the novel is the art of the gaze, the short story is the art of the glance.
A short story must immediately pull the reader out of her world and drop her into the world of the story. We begin when everything but the action is over—at the edge of the cliff. If crafting such an engaging world in so few words seems intimidating, begin by grounding yourself in the fundamentals of good storytelling.
We read stories to make sense of our lives, to be entertained, and to feel something. We read stories in order to imagine and to create, and so we ask the writer to tell us a story. And when we say story, we mean plot. Plots, Aristotle told us, have beginnings, middles and ends, and they proceed through a series of reversals and recognitions, a reversal being a shift in a situation to its opposite, and a recognition being a change from ignorance to awareness.
The basic plot of every story—regardless of length or complexity—is: A central character wants something intensely, goes after it despite opposition and, as a result of a struggle, comes to either win or lose.
Many aspiring short-story writers shun plot and instead focus on the other elements that make up a snapshot of a story—characters, descriptions, setting and the like. But no matter how luminous your prose or how fascinating your characters, if you have no plot—no narrative shape—if the characters have nothing meaningful to accomplish, the reader will lose interest in even a short piece.
Plot is your weapon of suspense. Wield it wisely, and the reader will want to know what happens next. This approach can guide you in composing a short story that creates the emotional and intellectual experience your reader hopes for.
The Bells are home alone after the burial and the distressing but obligatory reception for family and friends at their house. Alice is slumped in a corner of the sofa, a sweater draped over her shoulders. He believes that if he had been listened to, Hope would still be alive.
He wants Alice to accept her responsibility for what happened. How will the Bells survive this loss? This tension will keep our opening scene interesting and will lead us to the next one. Each scene is an uninterrupted unit of dramatic action.
It shows, illustrates and presents. In scene, the reader becomes emotionally involved with the characters. Everything important in a story should happen in a scene, and this is especially true in the short story, where there is little room to discuss backstory at length.
When deciding which path your story should take, remember that the struggle of your story needs to be dramatized, not summarized, and begin to plan your scenes accordingly. When people talk, they also act, and when characters act, the reader sees them. When I wrote that Alice blotted her tears, could you see her red-rimmed eyes and the wad of tissue balled up in her fist?
We want to know what our couple can do in this room. And we also understand that every detail in the room will tell us something about the people who live there. We may picture Grady with a scar on his left wrist, but is the background story of this scar relevant to the story at hand?
If not, leave it out. A better detail may be two tiny silver eyes pinned to his lapel. Perhaps he bought the silver charm, thought to possess healing powers, from an elderly woman outside a church in Mexico. He has, we decide, glaucoma. When he told the woman he wanted a milagro, a miracle, for his daughter as well, she asked him what was wrong with the girl.[fad] - A Short Guide To Writing About Art Short Guide amazoncom creating short fiction the classic guide to writing short fiction damon knight books the best selling guide to writing.
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What this handout is about. This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. It offers a process and suggests some strategies for writing book reviews.
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Humanities & Social Sciences. Anthropology; Art; Communication, Film & Theatre Catalog. Mass Communication / Public Relations / Film; Speech Communication. The ability to write an effective summary might be the most important writing skill a college student can possess.
You need to be able to summarize before you can be successful at most of the other kinds of writing that will be demanded of you in college, and it is an important part of note taking, too.