Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 5 - Short Story Workshop

Effective stories come out through the interplay of conflict, character, and details.  Here are some areas to look for in the stories you'll workshop today.

Day 5: Short Story Workshop

Are the characters believable?  Are they different from one another?  One important aspect of this is voice.  Characters will speak differently depending on background, education, and culture, and the story should reflect this.

Does the main character have a direct and personal conflict?  The story will be driven by the character's response to the conflict, so it should be conflict which seriously threatens the personal needs, desires, or existence of the main character.  And "existence" is used loosely here - it can represent simply the way a character views his or her role in the world.

Showing vs. Telling
Do we "see" all the important details and events of the story?  Or does the narrator "tell" us what we need to know?  Note that this balance of Scene vs Exposition can have a dramatic effect on the pace of the story.

Plot and Tension
Does the story tell us what we need to know when we need to to know it?  Too much information too early can spoil the story, but saving all the information until the end can prevent us from believing the ending.  Foreshadowing is the delicate art of hinting at the ending without giving it away.

Specificity of Detail
Specific details help us see the story better.  Generally, the more specific, the better - it helps when we see size, shape, color, and type.  But this can also be overdone.  Make sure each detail is relevant to the story and that it's couched in terms which would be familiar to the narrator.

Day 5: Short Story Workshop

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