Friday, October 23, 2015

PNWA 2015 Workshop Review #10: The Five Essential Elements for a Short Story

(Image from:  Mr. Donn's Site for Teachers & Kids--Stories)

First, a note on the intrusion/hacking I reported in my last post. 

It looks like the Indonesian gambling spam, courtesy of Read List from "Thrillofadventure" has been purged from my blog's Read List.  I hope this hasn't affected any of my readers' systems.  Thank you for your patience.

Now getting back to the PNWA 2015 review I meant to write a few days ago...

One of the most daunting issues to me as a writer is the idea of stringing 100,000 words of "literary code" into a coherent novel.  So before I turned to writing webcomics, I looked into writing smaller works from Flash Fiction to Short Stories, and everything else just shy of a novel.

When it comes to writers conferences, I'm always interested in workshops on shorter works; in this case, The Five Essential Elements for a Short Story, presented by Bharti Kirchner.

Miss Kirchner always gives a pleasant presentation, and I've enjoyed attending her seminars.  In fact, I attended her Jump-Starting a Short Story five years ago.

Going over my hastily-written notes, I can't discern five distinct essential elements this year's workshop was suppose to be about, but I managed to scrawl over five pages of my notebook.

So I'll just post what I have in the order I scribbled it down...

Why write a short story?

--Provides feedback and experience in between longer works
--Short stories are popular again, thanks to the internet.
--Short story collections are popular, especially if compiled into a common theme.
--Can provide insight to writing techniques.

What is a short story?

--It's not a personal essay.
--It centers on something happening to a character that means something to that person.
--It's a complete story.
--It's not a character sketch, vignette or anecdote.
--Each sentence must have an impact.
--You must create an emotional effect on the reader.
--There must be an internal change to the character.

What makes a short story work?

--An action or gesture that evokes something occurring beyond the character.
--A mental image of the passing of time, which can be flexible.

Structure of a short story.

--The character understands something profound.
--The readers learn or feel something when finished.
--The first and last paragraphs must be strong, especially in first person.
--The story contains a mystery that grows.

Timespan of a short story.

--Time is comparatively short, but flexible, as previously mentioned.
--It's better to have a narrow timeline as opposed to one dealing with global issues.

How many characters should be involved?

--Usually no more than three.

Elements of a short story are--


Character development in a short story--

--Character can be revealed through dialogue.
--Know your character--what does he want and what motivates him?
--Keep in mind the nature of the speaker when writing dialogue.

The voice of a short story can be ordinary, but natural, as if sounding from a real person.

Advancing the plot in a short story--

--Ask "what if?"
--Ask "what does the character want?"
--If the character is thwarted, what provides the momentum?

Short story styles--

--Dropping the reader into the middle of the story.
--Writing the story from the point of view of one of the characters.
--Writing the story from a character's point of view, but talking about another character.

Tips on staying motivated to write a short story--

--Write every day, even if it's only a few sentences.
--Think about the end of your story--and fill in everything else.
--Think about dropping your first paragraph.

And finally, short story markets--

--literary contests
--Writer's Digest publishes Writers Market that lists opportunities
--DuoTrope is another site that you can sign up for and search for markets

So that's it for my stammering on short stories.

(Image found on Writers & Artists)

No comments: