Want more “I See Monsters?” Well, TOO BAD! (Evil laughter.) Because we have a guest post today while I lay down and ice my head. I’m tellin’ ya, writing and building a short story takes a ton of energy. I must be getting old…
Anyway, “I See Monsters” will return with big post number nine tomorrow. Until then, let’s get some short story tips from author Anjuelle Floyd. (And let’s hope I’ve been following all her rules!)
History and Art of the Short Story
by Anjuelle Floyd
Rooted in the oral tradition of story telling, the short story of times past centered on anecdotal themes involving humor or topics of deep interest to both the narrator and the listener(s). Short stories operated like small myths that addressed matters of importance and delivering axioms or truths that aided in coping with life’s common difficulties.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, Nikolai Gogol and Guy de Maupassant, just to name a few, along with Anton Chekov established the form of the short story, and laid the groundwork for its development. The artistry of Andres Dubus, Alice Munro, Raymond Carver and William Trevor greatly contributed to its evolution throughout the 21s century. Recent Pulitzer Prize winning writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Edward P. Jones, whose short stories read more like mini novels yet closely adhere to the classical short story form and structure, present this literary art in its recent incarnation.
Short stories nearly always center on one protagonist, and possess a plot line of greater focus than that of novels or novellas. In reaching the arc of the narrative line in a briefer period, they deliver a pivotal transformation with greater and more powerful affect.
While novels can and do hold several subplots, the main driving force behind the emotional line of a short story rests on the major character addressing one major problem in her, or his situation. For this reason the intensification of reality in the short story is several times amplified when compared to that of the novel or novella. Thus the short story holds the possibility for delivering a greater psychological effect that yields a more formidable shift in consciousness than its literary counterparts. In many ways the short story is like the long, prosaic form of a poem with all its twists and turns.
While utilizing metaphors, symbols and physical details that delight and enliven the senses, the short story throws a sharp message not unlike the most tightly, and intricately woven novel. Herein lies the difficulty of honing one’s art and skill towards crafting an entertaining and engaging short story. Opening the narrative at a point when the heart of the action has begun to rise, media res, and ending as soon as difficulties have been resolved, lie at the core of crafting deft, and moving short stories.
You do not have to master the art of the short story form to benefit from writing them. The arrangement and style employed when using the elements of fiction towards crafting short stories inherently sharpens the author’s skill and artistry at writing fiction of all types.
What, for you, is the most difficult aspect of writing short stories?
What is the most intriguing aspect of crafting short stories that compels you to continue writing them?
BIO: Anjuelle Floyd is author of Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident, a collection of interconnected short stories, and a novel, The House, due for publication in Fall 2009. Read Anjuelle’s blog at: http://anjuellefloyd.com. Download her weekly radio show, “Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters” at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anjuellefloyd.
Thanks, Anjuelle! She will be joining us with a second post next week! But until then, “I See Monsters” must roll on. And it will. Tomorrow. (Gimme a break, would ya?)