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Essay/Term paper: Mastering the short story

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Book Reports

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Mastering The Short Story


Although I perceive Paul Darcy Boles to be an uppity, egotistic, and
somewhat euphorically rambling old man from his style of writing, there is some
beneficial information for someone wishing to create a commercially viable short
story. However, I feel that creating a story with the goal of marketability is a
grave mistake that ruins countless numbers of otherwise perfectly enjoyable
works of literature. It is no surprise that this style of writing is being
taught to the new generation, which promises to be far more creative than it's
predecessors.
Boles' first advice is to follow Chekhov's observation: "The art of
writing is the art of abbreviation." A story of 3000 words or less has no need
for excessive 1 paragraph descriptions. "Today's reader" (whoever that is) has
no need for the descriptive style found in older works. So much for Alistair
MacLeod.
A lot of importance is put on not stringing random sentences together.
Each sentence should be aimed towards a specific goal. The sum total of these
sentences is your story. Boles' views a sentence as a factor in a mathematical
equation. He also gets almost romantic about the sentence as a living, sentient
being. Once you shovel the pop-lit drivel where it belongs, you are free to
apply his suggestions to your own work.
It is a good idea to check your story for too much obvious meaning. Not
only will this make the story shorter and clearer, the hidden meanings imbedded
in the story will have a chance to be probed and discovered. As well, avoid
"signpost" sentences that could easily be replaced by more legitimate
conversations or actions.
A lot of emphasis is put on simulating a sense of "in-ness"; that is,
giving your work a believable lived in feeling. When reading the story, one
should have a clear picture of the environment around it's characters, and it is
of imperial importance that it is realistic.
In conclusion, Boles discusses the important of a strong beginning and
ending. The first word or sentence should be powerful, but be prepared to follow
through with similar statements throughout the story. If the beginning is too
shocking, the rest of the story will have a tough time following it's lead.
Likewise, the ending is equally as important to the overall stability of
the story. Know when to end it - most likely as soon as the conflict is
resolved. Don't waste the reader's time and attention with fluffy conclusions.

 

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