Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Short Story Composition - A Myth

Here I am composing short stories all wrong. I wish I had known. I'm told, by Kurt Vonnegut I think, that stories should all begin as close to actual turn, the heart of the matter if you will, as is humanly possible. Don't lead up to the crux of the tale, start at the crux if you can. Perhaps a few sentences to ease the reader into the story, but In Media Res is even better.

Yet one of my stories starts with the birth of the hero. Like a Charles Dickens novel but only half as long. No wait, make that one one hundredth as long. This story got published.

How about a variation on this rule? Start where things get interesting.

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Writing three short stories now (along with three novels for balance). One of them is flash fiction. No idea where to get that published. I want to submit it for an award eventually. Not because it's that good, just because if a few hundred words are going to cause me that much trouble, then I should get something out of it. Are there paying markets for flash fiction? That'd be cool.

Two other stories have to do with New England. Putting together the story seems easy enough. Making it clear that the location is important is a little more difficult. We'll see if any of this pans out.


Blogger James Lincoln Warren said...

It's important not to confuse structure and technique with story. Writers all have their own bag of tricks for getting the story out. The tricks that they use are choices made to tell the story in the most effective way.

There are no strict rules. One technique may work well for one story and fail completely with another. That's one of the things that makes story-telling a creative endeavor.

February 22, 2006 12:56 PM  

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