November 16th, 2011

Postage stamp

Go Ahead — Write This Story: Keeping it short

Once again, you curse the gods of literature — your "short story" turned out to be the first chapter of a novel, and you really wanted a short story. How do you keep things short? Try to limit the number of characters to two or three. Use one point of view. Keep the conflict simple, the way postage stamp artwork is simple. Compress the time frame. Aim for a single effect. And be careful to include only the most essential information. If you need a short story idea, here are a few.

● This is a fantasy story in which a gem broker becomes obsessed over a new kind of stone that appears at a roadside market.

● This is a government cover-up story in which a panic-stricken alien learns self-defense from a dog.

● This is a story about an incorrigible Lunar pioneer who endangers the settlement by sloppy habits that introduce Lunar dust, which has damaging and irritating sharp edges, into living and working quarters.

— Sue Burke

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