Friday, October 17, 2014

My Notes on How to Write a Short Story--lesson given by Paul Genesse

I want to start by giving advice to new writers that might happen by my blog...
If you haven't already joined a writing group, do so now. You won't regret it. If you're hesitant to, then put those boots on, pull up your britches and grab that bull by the horns. Not only will you learn a thing or two about writing and publishing you'll build friendships who are the glue that keep your sanity together. They will brighten your path along the crazy road to becoming an author.
Okay, maybe it's not so much a road as it is a roller coaster.

Moving on...

Last night I had the privileged to attend my League of Utah Writers meeting where Paul Genesse, author of many Fantasy and Sci-Fi short stories and novels, spoke on how to write a short story.
Not only is Paul's big head full of knowledge, he's funny too. (Okay, his head is normal size, but I think it's because he's used some kind of magic trick to make it look that way, because someone so knowledgeable has to have a gigantic head.)
Anyway, here are my notes from the meeting. May we all learn enough to grow gigantic heads like Paul.

A short story is 7,000 words or less
7,000 to 12,000 words is novelettes
14,000 and over words is a novellas (until around 50,000 to 60,000, then they are novels)

*A short story needs to accomplish one thing... The reader needs to feel something at the end.
*Start in the middle of the action. Don't start before the semi crashes through the building. Start when the person wakes up below the bumper of metal beast with gasoline filling their nostrils.
*Use the 5 senses on the first page.
*Writer's need to be abusive--or in other words, take away everything the reader wants for the character. Make the character ache and wallow in misery until the resolution.
*Make the reader love the character right away.
*Show, don't tell!
*To learn how to write a short story, you must read short stories.
*There must be conflict or tension on ever page.
*Don't use the word WAS
*Don't go big. Don't put too much into a short story or you'll end up with a novel instead.
*When you're done writing it, put it down for a few days or a week, then come back.
*Stick with 2 or 3 characters

When cutting scenes ask the questions...
-Does it progress the plot?
-Does it have tension? Does it make the reader feel?
-Does it show characterization?
If it doesn't do any of these things, then get rid of it.

I'd like to say thanks to Paul for your time and talents. Thanks to Lauri Schoenfeld and Eliza Crosby for all you do for our group. Thanks to Nicole White for taking this picture of us on our adventure at Leatherbys afterwards.
Lauri, Travis, Paul, Eliza and me
(Travis Behunin, you weren't looking at the camera)

Write on!

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