Showing posts with label writer's skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writer's skills. Show all posts

Short Story Writing Builds Skills for Tighter Text

 Short Story Writing Builds Skills for Tighter Text by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Writing short stories is a great way to build skills and a daily writing practice. Don't try to understand what people want. Instead, figure out what you want to say and write the heart of it.

We will be more satisfied with our stories if we learn from the master authors of classical short stories. For a worthwhile reference see:   I am quite impressed with their menu options as well as creating a personal library for my quick “planning ahead” reads. At the top right, open the “login” and create your account with an email with password. Now start building your personal library.

Short Stories have traditionally ranged from 1,500 to 5,000 words (but 3,000 is more common). Short Stories use the 3-Act structure (beginning, middle, end) used for novel writing. A short story is condensed, with setting and action beginning from the start. Structure with art in the delivery.

How do we find great story ideas?
I have a book by Fred White titled: Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions into Narratives. He mentions:
* Sometimes a newspaper report will catch your eye or hit a nerve, and become a story.
* You might retell an ancient myth into a current tale.
* You’ve grabbed an idea you can work with. Here are some pre-drafting activities you might find useful. Lists can provide inventory for content; Maps help create a layout for events; Profiles help develop your characters; and Collages visualize your story idea.

In How to Write Short Stories, Jerry Jenkins includes several points. I have included a few below:
* Learn to recognize the Kernel of an idea, a memory, a problem or fear.
* Make a practice of jotting down notes to expand upon during free writing, discover what comes to mind. Descriptions of characters to add or a setting for the story might pop in from your notes.
* We come in contact with people daily: at the supermarket, walking, and on the web. Use some of those traits to help develop your characters.   
* Now start writing. There’s plenty of time for changes and additions once you have a draft. If something doesn’t seem quite right, cut it out (at least for now).
* Be sure to craft a satisfying end, that leaves the reader appeased for the time well spent.

The Take Aways:
•    When you have a collection of 12 or more Short Stories, consider combining them in book form as an anthology. Consider thematic clusters, or maybe choose all 12 of a similar theme. Plus, remember, a powerful, interesting title is key for grabbing the reader’s eye.
•    Approach magazine publications and propose adding one of your stories to a coming issue.
•    Where Do You Get Your Ideas? See:
•    Jerry Jenkins

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:

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Writing Monologues

A number of years ago I attended a workshop given by David Page. It was one of the most inspiring workshops I have ever attended. I realize now how important that workshop was to the improvement of my writing, and I highly recommend all new writers (actually all writers new and experienced) to practice writing monologues. The following is just a list of points he gave in that workshop. As I read over them, it occurred to me that they can apply to all writings in the fiction genre. I thought I would share them with you. The list is not long. I hope everyone can find at least one point that will help them.
             1.  If you don’t develop a good character, you cannot have a good monologue.
             2.  Don’t sit in the easy seat when you want to write monologue. Write about
                 something you don’t know about.
                 Note: This is certainly different from what I’ve been told, but you have to
                 admit it would challenge you, and I love a challenge.)

             3.  Learn to do interviews.

             4.  Go to where people tell you not to go -- Taboo Land.

             5.  Find your hook.

             6.  In order to be somebody, you have to see/be everybody.

             7.  Got to feel your character’s heartbeat in their monologue. Should have attitude.
             8.  Monologue does not have to have just one emotion.

             9.  If you write something phony, it brings your work to a standstill.

            10.  Do not write about something you do not have feelings about.
            11.  To make it real-- it has to have connections to other things:  place, personalities
                    that are insinuated, etc.

            12.  Need a tone to your dialogue. Needs to sound individual. Imbed the tone into
                   the monologue.

            13.  When writing a monologue, remember what it is-- don’t make it its own novel
                    within your novel.

            14.  You have to know who you are in order to write good dialogue.

            A monologue has one main character, and the monologue is written from that character’s POV. You can use either or both exterior dialogue or interior dialogue. The monologue must be more creative and more personal than a manuscript that has more than one character.

            Everyone is different, and we all have our own methods, but I like to sit down and write a monologue just for the practice. I have found that it can also help me when I get a bad case of writer’s block. It seems to stimulate my creativity. At any rate, it is good practice for improving your writing skills, especially if you are a young writer.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of:  To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                              Sarah’s Secret
Member of:  Sisters In Crime
                     Writers on the Move


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