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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How to Write a Short Story: Six Crucial Steps - reposted from DailyWritingTips

How to Write a Short Story: Six Crucial Steps - DailyWritingTips



Posted: 24 Jul 2018 11:53 AM PDT
short-story
Short stories are tricky to write well. Every word counts – and you don’t have long at all to establish characters and get the plot going.
While most of my fiction-writing time goes into novels, I’ve written a bunch of short stories over the years (and even won an occasional prize).
There’s plenty to like about the short story form:
  • You get the satisfaction of completing something! I’ve often taken breaks from ongoing novels to write short stories, simply to be able to finish a piece of writing. If you’ve ever written a story of any length, you’ll know how satisfying finishing can be.
  • You can explore lots of different ideas – without committing a huge chunk of time to them. Maybe you want to write about a weird living spaceship in one story, a bullied teenage girl in another, and a character who never celebrates or even acknowledges his birthday in a third. You might not want to explore any of these ideas at novel or novella length … but you could enjoy fleshing them out into short stories.
  • You can have fun with structure and viewpoint. Things that would be unlikely to work for a whole novel (like writing from the point of view of an inanimate object, or writing in the second person, or having a whole story that builds up to a twist ending) can work very well in a short story.
  • You can enter competitions. This is a rather less artistic consideration than the others … but most competitions are for short stories rather than for novels. Having a deadline (and often a topic or prompt to work from) can be really motivating, and winning a prize – or even getting shortlisted – could be a great boost to your writing career.
Hopefully, you’re keen to give short stories a go. (If you’re not sure what sort of length you’re going to write to, check out my post Story Writing 101 for help with story-writing more generally.)
These are the six steps you need to follow to complete a short story:

#1: Decide How Long Your Story Will Be

This might seem like an odd place to begin – how can you know how long your story will be until you’ve written it? The length of your story, though, will make a big difference to how you plan and begin writing: a 800 word short story will be very different in nature from an 8,000 word short story.
Depending on your aims with your short story, the length might be pre-determined for you. If you’re entering a competition, for instance, there’ll almost certainly be a minimum and/or maximum word count.
If you’re not sure what sort of length to aim for, check out Maeve’s post How Short Is Short Fiction? to figure out what length your short fiction should be.
Tip: If you’re new to writing short stories, around 2,000 words is a good length – long enough to give your story a bit of breathing room, but short enough that you only need to develop a couple of characters and a single plotline.

#2: Come Up With Several Ideas

Unless you already have a clear idea in mind for your short story, I’d suggest coming up with several different ideas. This is especially crucial if you’re entering a themed competition: chances are, the first idea that you have will be pretty similar to the first idea that pops into other people’s minds!
In two decades of writing fiction, I’ve found that ideas can come at the oddest moments. You can definitely help the process along, though, by setting aside time to deliberately brainstorm. Write your topic, prompt or starting line on a piece of paper, and jot down anything that comes to mind.
If you don’t have a particular topic for your story, you might want to use a prompt to help you.
Tip: Don’t push yourself to write about an idea that doesn’t really interest you. Keep brainstorming until you hit on something you really want to write about … or step away altogether and wait to see if an idea comes to you out of the blue.

#3: Pick a Couple of Characters

Your idea itself might have brought characters with it (e.g. if your idea was “a young colleague is promoted above his older, resentful co-worker”)  … but if not, now’s the time to figure out the main characters for your short story.
In a short story, there’s only space for a small cast of characters. While there’s no “rule”, I find it works best to have one protagonist and one other main character (who might be supporting or opposing the protagonist).
If you try to have lots of characters, it’s tricky to introduce them quickly enough without confusing the reader – and continuing to follow several characters throughout can make your story seem muddled or slow. Focusing on two characters (even if other characters come in briefly) helps you to structure a satisfying story.
Tip: Sometimes, a fairly “normal” idea can be made into a great short story by shifting the perspective. The story of a wedding, for instance, might not be especially interesting on the surface – but it could be far more fascinating told from the point of view of the lively five-year-old flower girl.

#4: Plan Your Short Story

Every story needs a beginning, middle and end – I’m sure you’ll have heard that before!
There are two different ways to look at the beginning, middle and end though:
  • The chronological structure: this is how the events would look if you placed them in time order. E.g. the first event in the story might be the meeting between the protagonist and antagonist.
  • The narrative structure: this is how the events look in the order in which you tell them. E.g. the first paragraph of the story might show us the protagonist and antagonist in the middle of a fight.
One of the great things about short stories is that you can do some interesting things with structure. It might make sense to tell the story out of chronological order, for dramatic effect – for instance,  you might start a story with a mild-mannered grandmother being arrested, then backtrack to explain what happened, then return to the arrest and the events after it at the end of the story.
When you’re planning, think about the most effective way to tell your story. Chronological order will work well for many stories, but you still might want to bring in past information through summary, dialogue or even flashbacks. (Be careful with flashbacks, though; they can easily disrupt the pace of a short story.)
Tip: You might not hit on the perfect structure for your story first time around. You might want to write a rough plan, draft out your story, then think again about the order in which you want to present your scenes.

#5: Draft Your Short Story

This is perhaps the trickiest step – because it’s time to sit down and actually write your short story.
Hopefully, at this stage, you’ve got a clear idea in mind, plus a rough plan or outline for your story. That’ll make the writing much easier.

Viewpoint and Tense

You may still face some decisions at this stage, though, particularly when it comes to viewpoint and tense. Sometimes, there’ll be a particular choice that just feels right for your story – maybe you have a central character with an unusual perspective and/or voice, and you want to write in the first person from their perspective.
With viewpoint, you might write from:
  • First person (“I”) – particularly useful if you want to tell a story through letters, diary entries, text messages or similar
  • Second person (“you”) – this is an unusual choice but can be sustainable in a short story
  • Third person (“he/she”) – this is the most conventional choice and you can’t go far wrong with it
In a short story, I’d recommend sticking to one character’s viewpoint (even if you’re using third person), unless you have a good reason to switch between characters.
With tense, you might write in the:
  • Past tense (“[he] walked”) – the most conventional choice
  • Present tense (“[he] walks”) – often seen as a more literary choice; can work well with a first-person perspective in particular
  • Future tense (“[he] will walk”) – an unusual choice but not out of the question for a short story

Writing the First Draft of Your Story

As you write the story itself, try not to worry too much about getting every word right: you’ll have time to edit later.
It’s usefully helpful to:
  • Move the plot along quickly. You don’t have space for lots of introspection (characters dwelling on their thoughts).
  • Show, don’t tell. Because short stories are so compact, it’s very easy to slip into telling – but it’s better to paint a scene and trust that readers will understand it!
  • Use dialogue effectively. It should either advance the plot or reveal character … or both! Don’t have dialogue for the sake of it.
Tip: If you can, it’s helpful to get a rough draft of your short story written in just one or two writing sessions. Can you set aside a full afternoon or evening to focus on your writing? (If not, don’t worry, just work with what you have – but do try to get that draft done quickly, or you’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out where you left off.)

#6: Edit Your Short Story

Finally, it’s time to edit your short story. Depending on how your first draft worked out, you might end up doing a lot of rewriting at this point – perhaps you’ve realised that your characters weren’t quite right, or you’ve uncovered a whole new layer to your story, or you want to tell it in a completely different order.
If you have major changes to make, get those done first before you start finalising word choices and sentence structures – there’s no point perfecting three paragraphs that you later cut completely.
Once you’re happy that your short story is in reasonable shape, with no more big changes to come, you can go through it and edit on a sentence level. For me, this normally means cutting out unnecessary words and flabby sentences, and paring the story back a little, in order to make what remains even more powerful.
Tip: However much editing you do, you’ll need to do a final pass through your story to look for typos and grammatical mistakes. It’s easy for these to creep in during editing – so it’s always good to do that final check. Many writers find it helpful to proofread on paper rather than on the screen.

Short stories might look easy on the surface. They’re short, after all! But writing a good short story can be really tricky, because you don’t have long to make an impact on the reader … and every word needs to count.
Best of luck with your short stories! And for lots more help with writing stories of all lengths, from flash fiction up to novels, check out our ‘Fiction Writing’ archives.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Amazon Prime Day - Jim Buchanan Novels













Amazon Prime Day begins on July 16 at 3 p.m. ET and runs for 38 hours. Amazon is promising more than a million deals around the world.





However, Red Road Publishers is getting an early start and offering the Jim Buchanan Novels at its lowest prices ever!

Get them at: 

https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00G5YX89K/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1530765690&sr=8-1&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true



Friday, June 1, 2018

Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association Northeast Meeting

Conversations about Elmore Leonard, “The Dickens of Detroit”


Elmore Leonard was an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. He wrote 45 novels and many short stories and screenplays. Part of his body of work transferred to the big screen are Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, Get Shorty, Joe Kidd, 52 Pick-Up, Valdez is Coming, and 3:10 to Yuma. His novel, Raylon was adapted for the small screen for the popular TV Series, Justified. Elmore Leonard was an Edgar Award winner, a Grand Master Award winner for Lifetime Achievement from the Mystery Writers of America, an F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award winner for outstanding achievement in American literature, a Peabody Award winner, and a National Book Award winner among others.


One copy of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing will be given away during the meeting.

The public is invited to the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association (CAPA) Northeast Monthly Meeting

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Informal meet & greet @ 9:30 - Meeting @ 10:00 a.m.
Lecture, questions, & answers from 11:00 a.m. to noon

Willington Public Library
7 Ruby Road, Willington, CT 06279
860-429-3854, www.willingtonpubliclibrary.org

CAPA is a nonprofit organization assisting authors & publishers. For more information, please go to: www.aboutcapa.com


Friday, February 16, 2018

Talking Forensics

On Saturday, March 3rd Peter Valentin, retired Connecticut State Police Detective in the Major Crime Squad will present a lecture at the Willington Public Library in Willington, Connecticut. 

Mr. Valentin combines a forensic science educational background with experience in the application of his trade as a crime scene investigator. 


Friday, December 22, 2017

Purchase any of the Jim Buchanan Novels at reduced prices while they last!


On Saturday, November 4th, my first novel, Montana Harvest was selected as an Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) 2017 Mystery/Suspense Book Award winner. In addition, my novels, Montana Harvest, Mystery at Little Bitterroot, and The Killing Zone reached the 5,000 sales mark on Monday, November 6th.

To celebrate those two milestones, the paperback and Kindle versions of my three novels are priced at $11.99 and $.99 through December 31st, 2017. You save $3 on the paperback version and $2 on the Kindle edition.

There are only 9 days left until the prices revert to $14.99 for paperback and $2.99 for Kindle. 

Get yours now!


Monday, December 4, 2017

25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards - The Killing Zone








Below is a brief commentary for your entry in the 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Thank you for participating!

Entry Title: The Killing Zone
Author: Felix F. Giordano
Judge Number: 25
Entry Category: Genre Fiction

 A few quick notes~
  • Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
  • The 1-5 scale is strictly to provide a point of reference; the scores are meant only to be a gauge, and are not a cumulative score, nor are they tallied or used in ranking. 
  • A "0" is not a negative score. Our online review system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations.As a result, we've substituted a “0” in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry, a cookbook, or a travel guide would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal, and may therefore receive a “0” - indicating that the rating was not applicable.
  • If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:
This book was hard, gritty and intense. The characters weren't cookie cutter - Videl is as vicious as they come, yet you explain why. I relish the Native American mysticism, especially when it comes to Alma Rose's abilities. I couldn't put the book down as you kept the intensity of the pacing going throughout. This is one of those stories where you cheer when the 'bad guys' get their comeuppance, though I have a feeling this isn't the last time we'll be meeting Videl Tanas. This was certainly a terrific page turner.

25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards - Montana Harvest










Below is a brief commentary for your entry in the 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Thank you for participating!

Entry Title: Montana Harvest
Author: Felix F. Giordano
Judge Number: 25
Entry Category: Genre Fiction

A few quick notes~
  • Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
  • The 1-5 scale is strictly to provide a point of reference; the scores are meant only to be a gauge, and are not a cumulative score, nor are they tallied or used in ranking. 
  • A "0" is not a negative score. Our online review system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations.As a result, we've substituted a “0” in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry, a cookbook, or a travel guide would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal, and may therefore receive a “0” - indicating that the rating was not applicable.
  • If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 3
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 3
Character Appeal and Development: 4
Voice and Writing Style:

Judge’s Commentary*:
I enjoyed the setting of this novel and I especially enjoyed the Native American shamanism and language sprinkled throughout. The writing was very good, the characters are so likeable that, as a murder mystery series,it could really take off if there are more 'red herrings' to throw off the reader.