Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creating Short Stories 04

Making the Short Story Soup

See Creating Short Stories!

A story needs to contain events, conflicts, and confrontations that involve the protagonist to keep the reader interested in reading on. It’s the writer’s job to create these bad things in the context of telling the story. For example, in The Puppet Masters, Robert Heinlein had space alien slugs take over human beings. Click here to view the unseemly event!

What kind of a person could think of such atrocities? Other than sadists and psychopaths, that would be writers. Think about all the gruesome things Stephen King did to his characters. In Carrie, a young female high school graduate destroys the graduating class with her telekinetic powers. In Needful Things, he turns the inhabitants of a New England town violently against each other.

What kind of monster are writers? What kind of evil minds do they have?
In reality, writers don’t hurt people. They only use complications, tragic events, tension, and conflict to pen stories that readers want to read.

In writing stories, additional depth comes from metaphor, simile, artistic license, and believability. All these fit into the actions, reactions, and the twists and turns embedded in the prose.

All of these events have a time and place in which they occur.

One masterful short story writer, O Henry wrote the following opening for his story, The Guilty Party.

“A red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sat in a rocking chair by a window. He had just lighted a pipe, and was puffing blue clouds with great satisfaction. He had removed his shoes and donned a pair of blue, faded carpet-slippers. With the morbid thirst of the confirmed daily news drinker, he awkwardly folded back the pages of an evening paper, eagerly gulping down the strong, black headlines, to be followed as a chaser by the milder details of the smaller type.

In an adjoining room a woman was cooking supper. Odors from strong bacon and boiling coffee contended against the cut-plug fumes from the vespertine pipe.

Outside was one of those crowded streets of the east side, in which, as twilight falls, Satan sets up his recruiting office. A mighty host of children danced and ran and played in the street. Some in rags, some in clean white and beribboned, some wild and restless as young hawks, some gentle-faced and shrinking, some shrieking rude and sinful words, some listening, awed, but soon, grown familiar, to embrace--here were the children playing in the corridors of the House of Sin. Above the playground forever hovered a great bird. The bird was known to humorists as the stork. But the people of Chrystie street were better ornithologists. They called it a vulture.”

The next two lines take the story directly into the action and dialog.

A little girl of twelve came up timidly to the man reading and resting by the window, and said:

"Papa, won't you play a game of checkers with me if you aren't too tired?"

This portion of the series will continue next week.
Post a Comment

Blog Archive