Tuesday, January 8, 2013

True Story. (Lots of them.)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: "It seemed like such a good idea at the time."
 How many times have we each said that? When you decide--I'm going to clean out all my dresser drawers, then you dump them all on the bed so you'll HAVE to do it, and then--you just can't do it. And sleep on the couch.

Or how about cleaning the oven? Changing the shelf paper in the kitchen? Joining a gym?

They all seem so brilliant at the time we think of them. Sometimes it's even more elaborate. You think: I'll learn Italian! I'll learn something! I'll grow! And--hey, like Julie and Julia,  I could even write a blog or an article about it!

And then, you actually have to do it. Like that couple in Australia or wherever, who decided to run a marathon every day. (I beg you.)

 Barb Goffman, our dear friend of Jungle Red, actually did it. A sort of--reading marathon.

Could you have done this? WOULD you have done this?  Read--and decide.

A STORY A DAY
   by Barb Goffman

I began 2012 with what seemed like an achievable goal. Read one short story a day for a year and write about each one on a blog set up by Spinetingler Magazine. How hard could that be? The stories, by definition, would be short, so surely I could fit one in each day, right?

Wrong.

I was doing really well until March, when I got sick to death of reading short stories. (Given that I write short stories, I probably shouldn’t admit that publicly. So let’s just keep it between us.) But once I let go of the pressure of needing to read a story every day, and later when I let go of the pressure of my revised goal of wanting to read 366 stories in the year (which meant reading several stories on some days to make up for days I read none), I came to enjoy the project more.

The end result: In 2012 I read 300 stories that I wrote about on the blog. Counting stories I didn’t write about (stories I hated, didn’t finish, were unpublished, other reasons ... ) I probably hit 366.

Woo hoo! I was done. A respectable finish. You’d think that would be the end of it. Well, that’s what I thought until people started asking me what I learned from the project.

HANK: Including me. Because it seemed like such a wonderful educational possibility, that the secrets of short stories would have to--emerge. Right? So, okay, Barb, go ahead.

 BARB: That took some analysis. But here it is:

There is no one rule an author should follow to ensure a short story will be great. So much of what makes a story stand out lies in author’s details, voice, and cleverness. Two authors could have the same idea, the same plot, but one’s story will sing while the other’s plods along because of language choice or attention to detail. My best suggestion is to find authors you think are great and read them. Read all their stories. Read the ones you particularly like over and over. Analyze their craft. Try to figure out how they got you to live in their world. If you’re lucky, your own writing will improve as a result.

Here are some stories I read this year that really made my motor hum.

• “Susie Cue” by Steve Liskow (appeared in Deadfall, published by Level Best Books in 2008). A special-needs man cares too much for the wrong people. This was a heartbreaking and engrossing story with lovely description.

• “Kiddieland” by Tim Chapman (appeared in The Rich and the Dead, published by Grand Central in 2011). No one wants to believe children can be evil. An engrossing story.

• “Some Things Can Never Be the Same” by Stephen Allan (appeared in Deadfall, published by Level Best Books in 2008). A man is torn between helping his bank-robber son and doing the right thing. A well-written, heartfelt story.

• “Awake” by David Dean (appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July 2009). A spooky story about a man falling asleep, not paying attention to the normal noises his house makes—air turning on, boards settling—until he hears a noise that’s not normal at all. This story has an open ending. You don’t know exactly what happens next, but the story is still satisfying because its beauty is in its detail and mood.

• “Family Plot” by Margaret Press (appeared in Deadfall, published by Level Best Books in 2008) and “Contender” by William Kent Krueger (appeared in Once Upon A Crime, published by Nodin Press in 2009). These authors know how to plant clues so deftly, that when you get to the story’s end, you’re surprised, and then you realize you shouldn’t be.

• “Puck” by Pat Dennis (appeared in Once Upon A Crime, published by Nodin Press in 2009). A story can be light in tone and still wonderful if an author knows how to bring a character to life.

• “It Ain’t Right” by Michele Gagnon (appeared in Vengeance, published by Mulholland Books, 2012). Writing so rich, I can’t even explain why it touched me so.

And, finally, my favorite story of the year:

• “Exit Interview” by Lynne Heitman (appeared in Boston Noir, published by Akashic Books, 2009). I’m going to paste here part of what I wrote about this story on the blog:

What should have been the best day of Sloan’s life turns into the worst. Or maybe the second-worst. As one character tells her, “It’s just a wrong-place-wrong-time-bad-chain-of-events kind of deal, and if one thing had gone different yesterday, maybe none of this happens.”

I like to think of myself as a good writer, and then I read a story like this—which blew me away—and I’m inspired to keep practicing and trying to improve. It isn’t the plot of the story so much as the way it’s told. The author draws you in to Sloan’s head, and you are right there in that moment and it’s so real. I can’t even describe why it struck me so. I’ll just say: go read it.

But don’t only go read Heitman’s story. Read many stories. There’s so much good writing being published in the short form. If you haven’t tried it lately, you really don’t know what you’re missing.

And now, I’ll throw the discussion out to you, dear reader. Have you read any amazing short stories lately? If so, what was it that made that story sing for you? 

 HANK: And could you have possibly read a short story EVERY day? Would you? Or have you ever taken on a huge task? And done it? What was it?


******************
Barb Goffman is a short-story author who lives in Virginia. Her stories mostly focus on families, because the people you know best are the ones you'll most likely want to kill. Barb’s been nominated for the Agatha Award four times and for the Anthony and the Macavity awards once each. In her spare time, Barb serves as a co-coordinating editor of the Chesapeake Crimes series (Wildside Press) and as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. She's an avid reader and a doting mom of a very cute dog. Her first collection of short stories, tentatively titled Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, will be published in the spring by Wildside Press. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.barbgoffman.com.



53 comments:

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi Barb! This is perfect...I just decided to try my hand at another short story and I've been looking for a few good ones to read...for inspiration. I've only written two and they were surprisingly difficult. They're shorter so they should be easier, right? Not necessarily.
I'm actually in awe of people like Barb!

Joan Emerson said...

Amazing short stories? For me, Agatha Christie aside, some of the best short stories come from the pens of science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. These amazing stories are never quite what you expected them to be, they always surprise and delight . . . one of my favorites is Bradbury’s “Lazarus Come Forth” with its unexpected ending that you absolutely never see coming . . . .

As for reading a short story every day, I’ve never thought about it, but it seems doable . . . if I could just put aside all my other books for a bit!

Ramona said...

Kudos to you, Barb, and thank you for spreading the love of short stories. There are zillions of short story resources online, so finding one per day to read would be a snap. Actually reading one per day takes a dedicated professional like you!

The closest I've come to a project like this was posting a How To blog post every day for a month. That was rough. The thought of posting every day for a year--wow. You really have my admiration!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

What a smart idea Barb, I bet you learned a ton for your own short story writing--which was successful even before you started! Short stories are harder than novels in my mind...

To answer Hank's question, no:). Don't you think that's why resolutions tend to fail? People set out to be too strict with themselves and then the whole idea crumbles. Barb did exactly the right thing to back off and revise when it got overwhelming!

marysuttonauthor.com said...

First, I've really come to love short fiction. In fact, of everything I've written, I've only finished one novel. Everything else is short story, novelette, or novella. I'm not sure why, but it appeals to me.

Like Joan, the some of most amazing short stories I've read come from science fiction. Bradbury had so many good ones.

A short story a day? I might - or I might say "read 365/year" because some days I have time for 3 or 4, some days I can't even get through one.

My favorite time to read short fiction though? Cooking dinner. I can polish off a short story before the entree burns. =)

Hallie Ephron said...

Great list, Barb - and I love that you did this. I haven't read most of those but I know the work of most of those authors and I'm going to check out those stories. That story of Lynne Heitman's is one I HAVE read and loved, too.

Also from that same collection, I loved Dana Cameron's Femme Sole, and Dennis Lehane's "Animal Rescue" (it's about rescuing a dog from a garbage can -- ironic now with Lehane's much publicized loss of his pet beagle.)

Barb Goffman said...

Hi, Ro. I think some of the skills needed to write short stories overlap with long stories. You need a good plot. A good voice. Etc. But with short, there are no subplots. You get in as late as you can and get out as fast as you can. One problem I saw is authors sometimes step on their end. Finishing a few paragraphs after they should. (I myself have that problem sometimes.) But you're a great writers, so I'm sure your story will be great, too. Good luck! (And thanks.)

Barb Goffman said...

I didn't read any sci fi stories this year, Joan. I may have to remedy that. Thanks for the suggestions.

And Ramona, thank you! What's interesting is that sometimes posting every day was harder than reading every day. There were times I got online and posted about a few stories at once that I had read over the prior few days. At the beginning not posting daily bothered me, but once I decided to cut myself some slack, I felt much better.

Lucy, I noticed this past summer that when I was revising stories, I was spending more time on the language, making it more ... melodic. I'm not sure if that's quite the right word, but I think my writing definitely has improved. I'll happily credit this project.

Mary, I love the idea of reading while cooking. Of course, that would require cooking on my part ...

Hallie, I had read Dana's story before, so I didn't read it again this year. But that story by Dennis Lehane was good. God, I hope his dog comes home safely.

Kaye Barley said...

Barb, Good Morning!

I love that you did this, and will look for the stories you've shared with us, thank you.

I'm a fan of short stories and am awed by those who are able to do it well. I do have two favorite writers who I think are excellent at this form - Margaret Maron and Earl Staggs.

Rosemary Harris said...

Can anyone provide links to some of their recent favorites? I know some of the Reds had great short stories out last year...(hint, hint)

Anonymous said...

http://www.spinetinglermag.com

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Good morning all! Isn't Barb fabulous? I am in awe of this.

I loved the Dennis Lehane Animal Rescue short story..(he's working on the film script now!) and yeah, so weird that his dog is missing. SIgh. I KNOW someone must have her..and wonder why.

Dna Cameron is a short story master--I really think Femme Sole would be a graet movie.

ANd now i'm thinking about organizing my dresser drawers. Someone stop me!

Ramona said...

Rosemary asked for links. This is from National Short Story Day international. It's a list of stories recommended by authors, in a variety of genres. It could keep you reading the rest of your life!

http://www.nationalshortstoryday.co.uk/recommendations

Barb Goffman said...

Hi, Kaye. Thanks for commenting. And you're right. You can't go wrong reading stories by Margaret Maron or Earl Staggs.

Hank, if you don't want to organize your own dresser drawers, you can come organize mine. Or my closets. Or my piles of paper. Or ... You get the idea.

And I probably should mention my own stories, since I'm here and all. A full list of my published stories is available on my website: www.barbgoffman.com.

In 2012 I had four stories published:

"The Lord Is My Shamus" in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder (God sends Job back to earth to investigate a death. Since Job is the investigator, before the story is over, there's suffering. Oy, so much suffering.);

"Murder a la Mode" in The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping (a proper southern woman must spend Thanksgiving at a nudist colony; can murder be far behind?);

"Bon Appetit" in Nightfalls: Notes from the End of the World (on the night before the world ends, an abused woman tries to make the best of her last night with her husband. Of course her idea of making the best of it doesn't match his);

and "Ulterior Motives" in Ride 2: More Short Fiction About Bicycles (There’s a mystery in this small-town story, and a secret, and a teenaged girl at the middle of it all who doesn’t think the adults around her understand much - which maybe they don’t.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

But I'd love to hear more, Barb, about what works and what doesn't. And how did you choose the stories you read?

Leslie Budewitz said...

Wow -- Barb, what an amazing project! And congrats on your own 2012 publications. I suspect if I tried to read and analyze that many stories in a year, I'd be so awed by what other writers have done that I'd be completely unable to write.

Cathy Shouse said...

Thanks for the recap on your year of reading short stories, Barb. You brought back memories of stories I loved from a college literature course. "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olson, which possibly doesn't qualify as a story, but an amazing piece of writing nonetheless.

"A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor

Would you believe I was able to look up the line that I remember most from "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner? I have remembered this one line for decades, maybe because it struck me as so clever, although sexist, about a man saying a woman didn't owe property taxes or something else related to finances. It speaks of the era it was written in:

"Only a man of Colonel Sartores' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it."

Barb Ross said...

Hi Barb

I love short stories! And, as an editor at Level Best Books, it's a good thing, because I read a lot of them.

I think writing a short story is like balancing on a high wire--you have to keep everything tucked in on not much real estate.

My favorite mystery short is, "The Woman in the Wardrobe" by Robert Barnard, which I think is perfection.

Literary fiction. "Horseman" by Richard Russo and "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," by Alice Munro, the basis for Sarah Polley's amazing movie "Away from Her."

Thanks so much for the shout outs for Deadfall.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Wow, what a project, Barb! Congratulations on completing such a challenge! And on all your own short-story success, as well.

A short story that really chilled me when I read it this year was Kevin Prufer's "Cat in a Box" in KANSAS CITY NOIR, an anthology I had a story in, as well. Kevin's another poet who's long written stories for mystery magazines, as well.

Hank, I'm fighting against that whole Big Project impulse right now. I have a book to write, and suddenly I need to declutter my whole house, reorganize the kitchen, clean out the basement and garage, etc. the only way I've accomplished what I have in my lifetime is while procrastinating on what I should have been doing. So I've developed a technique of setting multiple goals so that I can always procrastinate on one with another. Pathetically sad, isn't it?

Deb Romano said...

It would be easier for me to read at least one short story per day than to organize any aspect of my life...sigh.

Thanks to Barb and everyone else for providing lists of short stories to read. In recent years I have begun to enjoy science fiction and fantasy short stories. I still enjoy short mysteries, too, of course! For short stories, I prefer more humorous stories to more dramatic ones,although there are plenty of serious ones that I have enjoyed. I am bad at remembering titles, so don't ask me which ones I've read!

A long time ago, I worked my way through my library's multi-volume collection of Anthony Trollope's short stories. What a joy!It might be time to start rereading them.

Greatest mystery of all: why does captcha persist in believing I'm not real? Attempt Number three coming up.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Leslie, I'm smiling. Yeah, that happens, doesn't it? You think--yikes. This is too good.

On the other hand, sometimes--you'll get just the tiniest inkling of what the author is doing, and how...and it'll come at exactly the right time.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

So Barb, at Level Best, you're CHOOSING good stories for the anthologies! What have you learned in the prcess?

Carol B said...

I'm not a big short story reader, but I do sometimes keep a volume of them on hand for times when I know I won't have much time to read. Like waiting at a doctor's office, or something like that. But I think it's mainly because it interrupts from my reading a full-length book that I don't read them much! I do love O.Henry's stories, so there are some exceptions.
Blogging.....I'm just not into that. I even have to remind myself to read some that I do like.
And, although I have in the past actually gotten paid for writing reviews (when I was feature editor on a daily newspaper, and when I free-lanced as a reviewer for a United Methodist Church related newspaper), I find myself just not doing it anymore. I don't read reviews, so I don't bother to write them either!
No, I don't make resolutions. I sometimes think about things I would like to do, but I don't formalize them.
Hank, I know exactly what you mean about emptying contents of drawers or a closet on the bed so I HAVE to clean it up.......and how that can backfire!

Kelli Jo said...

I try to read every day - but I don't know if I could read a short story e v e r y day... :)

Barb Goffman said...

How did I choose the stories I read? That's the easier question to answer. As a short-story writer, I like to support the genre. So I often will pick up new anthologies when I see they come out, which has left me with many unread anthologies on my shelf to choose from. I tried to read whole books at a time, and I wanted to try out different publishers. So I picked up one of the Level Best Books anthologies, one from Nodin Press, one with stories from one of the SinC chapters, one of the MWA anthologies. In October, I read a book with Halloween stories. In November, I read a book with Thanksgiving stories. In December, I read a book with Christmas/Hanukkah stories. And I read a lot of one-offs, too. Stories I found on the web, etc.

Getting to your second question, Hank, the variety was very helpful. Without naming names, it became clear to me that some publishers took pretty much anything that was submitted without doing much - or any - editing. And others either started with a very high level of stories submitted, or they took the time to work with the authors to edit their stories so that they really shined. I don't think the anthologies that just publish anything are doing those authors any favors.

I'll be a bit more specific: One problem I saw in several stories was the bad guy's motivation didn't work. You get a twist in the end that's supposed to surprise the reader, and boy it does, because the bad guy had no reason to do what he did. A twist only works when it has been properly integrated into the story. In too many stories I read this year, that didn't happen.

I found some other stories where the authors got lost in the weeds, so enamored by their descriptions that they failed to come up with satisfying plots. And, wow, there were a bunch of stories that just petered out, without a good ending. Not every story needs a twist at the end, but it needs some finality, something that leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

Oh, and I read one so-called short story by a big-name author that clearly was the first chapter of a book. In my mind, that was a no-no. I could go on. Should I?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, yes, this is fascinating, Barb!

Barb Goffman said...

Hi, Leslie. And thanks. The beauty of this project is that I read a lot of great stories, and a lot of not-great stories - stories that made me think, "Wow, I can do better than that." So I got inspiration all the time. The good stories inspired me, as did the lousy ones.

Cathy, I think it's wonderful that you were able to recall that one line from the Faulkner story you read long ago. That is the essence of good writing. Something that sticks with you.

And Barb, you guys do good work at Level Best Books. The Deadfall anthology, overall, had a very high quality of stories. I'm one of the editors of the Chesapeake Crimes anthologies, and we put a lot of work into making the chosen stories shine. So much so that we can only handle putting out a book every other year. The fact that you guys put out a high-quality anthology annually is amazing. I only wish I could submit! (I've submitted to the Al Blanchard contest before, but darn it, I've never won.)

Susan M. Boyer said...

Barb, you are awe-inspiring--and you give great advice. Thanks so much for the recommendations!

Barb Ross said...

"So Barb, at Level Best, you're CHOOSING good stories for the anthologies! What have you learned in the process?"

The most heart-breaking ones to reject are the ones that are beautifully written character studies with no plot and great twisty plots about people you care nothing about. In both cases I think the authors could be very good short story writers someday--they're just not there, yet.

Of course, we also have to reject a lot of very good stories--for reasons of space or variety or something else having nothing to do with quality. Rejecting people has taught me a lot, as an author, about rejection. Don't take it personally or even necessarily as a reflection on quality.

As to the best stories, the ones that make all four editors go "ahhhh," they're the ones where the last line or paragraph is the perfect capstone that brings the whole story together in a totally satisfying way.

Barb Goffman said...

Linda, thanks! And thanks for the tip about Kevin Prufer's story. I'll have to look for that. And yours. (Another book to buy. Oh, goodie!)

Deb, you're welcome. There are a lot of good funny mysteries out there. Unfortunately, if you're looking for anthologies with just light stories, I think you'd be hard pressed. Funny stories tend to be mixed in with serious ones. I can only recall the Thanksgiving anthologies put out by Untreed Reads where all the stories are supposed to be funny.

Carol, I often will read one or more short stories in between novels as a palette cleanser. You might want to try that.

Kelli Jo, yes, it's not as easy as it sounds to read a short story every day. It sure was fun to try, though.

Barb Goffman said...

Okay, more on what didn't work.

I read one story in a noir anthology that had no crime or mystery in it. It was more of a day-in-the-life piece. Without a mystery plot, the story felt unsatisfying. Perhaps if I had gone in not expecting a mystery, but just a character study, I would have felt differently. But in a crime anthology - even a noir anthology - I expect mystery and/or crime.

Authors really need to pay attention to their details, making sure they get them right. For instance, there was one story in which a bomb goes off in a building, and a mere ten minutes later every media outlet in town is there reporting that the firefighters have already been through the building, determined there was only one dead body inside, and declared it likely to be arson. That would never happen so quickly, and it pulled me out of the story. Could the story have worked with some editing so that the timeline worked? Perhaps. I don't remember all the details to say. But the editor of that book should have caught the problems.

Barb Goffman said...

Hi, Susan. Thank you!!!

Another technique I saw a few times this year, that I would try to avoid, is having the main character - at the end - go into a detailed explanation of what happened and why. That type of information should come out naturally, not in a big info-dump at the end.

And then there's the coincidence. They're hard to swallow in a novel. In a short story, it's far worse. I read a few stories where the solving of the mystery occurred purely because of a coincidence. That left me, as a reader, quite dissatisfied.

I'll put a plug in for mechanics. No matter how good a story idea is, it won't be as successful as it should be if the writing isn't up to snuff. Here's something I wrote about one story: "While I really liked the idea of this story, the punctuation and lack of tags made it a bit hard to follow. I had to read the story a few times to correctly follow exactly what was happening." You don't want your reader to have to re-read multiple times to understand what's happening.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Linda, well, if that's the only way stuff gets done, what are you gonna do? I'll never forget the day I was procrastinating so hard I actually considered changing the shelf paper in the kitchen. I burst out laughing when I realized...and said, out loud! "Sit down and write."

Carol B, yup. Swoop it off the bed and into the trash. I mean, we had no idea what was there anyway, right?

Barb Goffman said...

More on what didn't work for me:

On point of view: I understand the desire to put in interesting details to make a story come alive. But you have to keep in mind whether the character telling the story would know those details. If the character would not, it pulls me out of the story. I wonder if point-of-view violations bother non-author readers as much as they bother me. I'd love to hear from anyone on that point.

Along the same lines, there were a few stories where, in the end, Character A has suddenly learned what Character B did, and thus was able to react in some way or have closure, etc. But there was no way that Character A could have learned what he learned. It certainly didn't occur on the page. To me, that's a cheat. Problems such as this occurred more often in stories with multiple points of view, where the authors didn't keep in mind what each character could know.

On slang: Slang is great to make the character come alive and seem real. But don't use so much of it that the reader has no idea what's happening.

I hope all this is helpful, because it otherwise feels very negative. I don't want to leave the impression that I only read bad stories this year. Far from it.

AliasMo said...

As someone who writes them, I should read more short stories, but the Ellery Queens and Alfred Hitchcocks often pile up around the house. (May have something to do with mysterious circulation schedule. I think the next one coming is June/July issue.)

I find the first challenge is in finding the voice/character to tell the story, then balancing the plot elements so I don't take my time with the beginning and then rush the end.

Two very different stories that stick in my mind are Jeffery Deaver's "Without Jonathan" and Toni L.P. Kelner's "Keeping Watch Over His Flock," which did a touchoing job of combining Christmas and werewolves!

Terry Shames said...

Barb, this was a fascinating blog, plus I read all the comments! I am not a big fan of short stories unless they are really good. Eudora Welty is my favorite (anybody who thinks she just writes sweet Southern lady fiction, pick any one of her stories and read the language for violent images--she's powerful.) I will definitely pick up some of the writers you mentioned. Meanwhile, I've tried writing short stories and I'm stymied. I'm a natural novelist--yammering on!

Mayhem and Magic said...

I LOVE short stories and I feel like so many people overlook the satisfaction they can bring. usually immediate satisfaction since you can read in one sitting!

Terri

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Barb, I love how you worked the system -- reading several in one day insteady of truding along to make your goal. How innovative.

Yes, I've read a short story recently, and I don't know if she's ever submitted it. It's fantastic. V.R. Barkowski's The Penny. Wonder if she's done anything with it.

Also, love that reading doesn't discourage you, it inspires you to do better. Sometimes it's downright intimidating, but your viewpoint made me reconsider. Happy New Year!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, intersting, Terry and M&M--why do you think some people avoid short stories? I havet to admit, they're rarely my first chioce--but a good one makes it all worth it.

Of course, you dont know that til you read it....

Ramona said...

I love this discussion! Also writing down a lot of stories to read.

Barb Goffman said...

AliasMo, yes. When I'm contemplating writing a new story, I wait to hear the proper voice. That will tell me so much about the character as well as where/when to start the story.

Terry, thanks for the tip about Eudora Welty. I love southern settings.

And Terri, yes, short stories are perfect for fast satisfaction. That sounds awful dirty, doesn't it? :)

Donnell, good luck with the writing. I'm thrilled I could serve as a source of inspiration.

Deb said...

Thank you, Hank, and Barb, for the great post. And Barb, hats off to you for the "project!"

I have to admit I've never been a big short story fan, and if I have any talent for writing them it has yet to surface. Every idea I get seems to turn into a novel...

I did love Bradbury's when I was growing up, though. Such language and imagery. They were perhaps one of the things that made me want to be a writer.

I like the idea of the short story as a "palette cleanser," and I have a volume of British short crime stories I keep MEANING to read, so am now inspired.

(Hank, how did you know I just cleaned out my sock and underwear drawer?? But I did manage to get everything off the bed before bedtime. It's the clean laundry that keeps getting dumped on the floor...)

Leslie Budewitz said...

Barb, a squillion thanks for sharing what you learned. And yes, Hank, reading can inspire as well as intimidate, thank goodness!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Deb, queen of drawers, will you come to my house, now?

xo

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And before you all go make dinner or go out on the town, let me tell you: tomorrow we'll have advice on ebooks from a VERY VERY unlikely mystery icon..

Dru said...

Hi Barb,

Thanks for your post. Kudos on meeting your goal.

I'm not a short-story reader per se, but I have read a few and enjoyed them.

I recently read one of Barb's short story and I liked it.

Deb Romano said...

Hank, regarding your last comment: now I am intrigued! You DO know how to keep people coming back for more, don't you?!

When I finish cleaning out my sock and underwear drawer(ha! like THAT will ever happen!), I should root around among my piles of books to see if I still have any collections of short stories that I can reread. I am far more likely to read than to get to the drawers.

storytellermary said...

Our high school used to have a class in short stories, which I loved to teach -- variety of authors and genres, and the student had to write an original story. It was a relaxed, reasonably easy, pleasurable class (one could see the honors students visibly relax when they came in).
I did occasionally get a student who misunderstood the plurality of the task, a new story every day (or two "To Build a Fire" is long!) Two such lads stormed out of class the second day at the very idea of quietly reading prior to discussion, "not putting up with this Sh*t." The rest of the students laughed, shook their heads, and resumed reading.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
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Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
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Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Ah, Mary, wonder what those students are doing now...scions of industry? Or..maybe something they read changed their lives..

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Barb! Thank you so much for being here today... you're terrific!

Tomorrow...well, one of your very favorite authors ..will surprise you!

Barb Goffman said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to the most-recent posts. I went to our local MWA meeting this evening and just got home.

Thanks to Dru and Hank and everyone who responded here today. It was such fun!