Short Story Elements

Short stories are fun to read because they pack an unexpected emotional punch. However, “short” does not mean easy to write, or a formless type of expression. Quite the contrary, they are written and rewritten numerous times with herculean effort to be efficient, banish loose ends, conclude with a plot twist plus a memorable last line. The big picture of a small story The plot follows the shape of a …

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Writing Query Letters

Writing the Great Ending

Writers are a creative group of people who have invented several satisfying ways to end a story. The Straightforward: The story problem is solved, conflict is resolved and the main character’s journey ends. This is the most common ending, a “happy ending”. The Shocker: Typical of horror, crime and thriller genres. Careful foreshadowing leads to an ending with a twist. The reader is surprised but says “I should have seen …

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Plot is the Beating Heart of a Story

What allows an author to convert something familiar, important or truthful into a story that is interesting? Simple answer: a plot. A story is NOT your diary, your years working as a gallbladder surgeon or the truth that advertisements lie. Readers want a plot that pulls them from the beginning to the end with a sense of satisfaction. Authors, whether they intentionally plan a story or not, often end up …

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Keys to Improving the Flow in Your Writing

Flow in writing is difficult to define, but readers always seem to recognize it. A flowing science fiction novel sucks the reader into the story, makes the unbelievable logical and prevents the poor reader from putting the book down until the last word passes into their brain long after dark. So, if defining flow is difficult, perhaps the opposite is comprehensible. Choppy, telegraphic, terse, repetitive, dense, lean, or clipped are …

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The Big Reveal and Plot Twists

The best way to create an effective “big reveal” is to have characters search for information, an object, or a person, so that their search leads to the big reveal — even if the big reveal is NOT the thing they were actually looking for. Orson Scott Card Fiction writing is a process of imparting information to a reader. That information might be about events, characters or rules of the …

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Suspension of Disbelief

Any fiction book relies on suspension of disbelief by the reader. They forgo belief in some aspect of the real world to believe in the story-world. Science fiction and fantasy stretch belief to the limits requiring genre authors to exert great care to avoid “breaking the spell”. At some point in a story this happens: The doorbell rings, and John opens the door. Standing on the porch is a three-foot-tall, …

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Point Of View

Trends In a list of the twenty most popular science fictions books of 2019, 60% were written in third-person point-of-view (POV), 40% in 1st person and none in second person. Although the story in each novel is very inventive, the authors adhere to the rules of point-of-view, much like punctuation and grammar. First-person POV is recognized by use of the pronoun “I” or “we” whereas third-person uses “he” or “she”. …

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Deep Third Person Point-Of-View

What if you want to write a story with a personal, emotional and introspective point of view? You would have two basic choices: First person: The heat of the dragon’s breath warmed my face, increasing the pounding in my chest. Deep 3rd person: The heat of the dragon’s breath warmed his face, increasing the pounding in his chest. Before the 1980’s (prior to deep POV acceptance) the second option would …

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Five Lessons from NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo seemed intimidating. Until last month, I’d only written short stories. How could a hack like me possibly write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days? What if my story is pathetic? Can’t they schedule this for a month without a major US holiday? Many of my writer friends were participating, but I heard my mother’s voice from beyond the grave. “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you …

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