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#13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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GracefulWarrior
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Postby GracefulWarrior » Mon May 24, 2010 8:27 pm

Good Evening,
Here is my homework.

Tony walked into the house dripping from the rain. Halfway to the couch he realized he still had his muddy shoes on. His wife yelled at him angrily.


Tony entered his house, tossing his drippng umbrella in the corner, then headed for the couch. Suddenly, he heard a loud terrifying noise.

"Are you crazy," his wife shouted? "I spent all day cleaning that floor!"

"Oh, sorry dear," he replied, removing his muddy shoes.

Thanks,
Holly

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Postby glorybee » Mon May 24, 2010 8:34 pm

GracefulWarrior wrote:Good Evening,
Here is my homework.

Tony walked into the house dripping from the rain. Halfway to the couch he realized he still had his muddy shoes on. His wife yelled at him angrily.


Tony entered his house, tossing his drippng umbrella in the corner, then headed for the couch. Suddenly, he heard a loud terrifying noise.

"Are you crazy," his wife shouted? "I spent all day cleaning that floor!"

"Oh, sorry dear," he replied, removing his muddy shoes.

Thanks,
Holly


Well done, Holly. You made the wife's words plenty angry, so you didn't have to tell us she was angry. And Terry both sounded and acted absent-minded.

I'd only change one thing, and that's the punctuation of the wife's dialog. The question mark goes with what the wife said, not with the dialog tag. Thus:

"Are you crazy?" his wife shouted.


Thanks for contributing, Holly. Anything else to add--questions, comments?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GracefulWarrior » Mon May 24, 2010 9:07 pm

Thanks Jan,

I am going to look for a punctuation book to study.

Thanks for the classes, they really are helpful. I don't have any questions at the moment.

Hope your Florida trip is fun. :)

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Postby GShuler » Mon May 24, 2010 10:18 pm

I just wanted to point out that suspence and conflict can sometimes be shown effectively through conversation... even if it is a one sided conversation with an animal. This example is from one of my challenge entries where the boy is expected to correct his pet elephant with a whipping cane. It is something he definately doesn't want to do and I show it through his words, not his actions.

Kyeema looked at the moonlight reflecting off the river water in shimmering cascades of dancing sparkles. His heart was not in what was to come. He held the whipping cane high in the air and turned to face Ar-Nar.

“Do you see what I hold, Big One?”

Kyeema paused as though he expected Ar-Nar to answer. The elephant just took another drink of river water.

“Father wants you corrected. He could be watching from behind the trees at this very moment. What am I to do with you?”

Kyeema saw Ar-Nar’s ears lift slightly. Her trunk raised as she shook her head from side to side.

“No... I will not let you off so easily this time. I am your Oozie. You must learn to obey when given commands.”
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby glorybee » Tue May 25, 2010 7:52 am

Gerald, how wonderful!

I really love the fact that you gave the elephant personality without anthropomorphizing her, and that your dialog did exactly what you wanted it to.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Anja » Tue May 25, 2010 10:17 am

But I'm not sure what you mean by 'starting with a clause'--and both of your sentences have action at the beginning.

If you were talking about starting with -ing verbs, I'm totally on board with you there. It's not stricty ungrammatical (although it can lead to problems--see below), but it's often overused by beginning writers.


I agree with Jan for the reason and example she gave.

But, to reiterate, here is NOTHING WRONG with beginning with an adverbial phrase or gerund phrase or any of the clauses. It's even recommended for sentence variety and interest. BUT you do need to understand WHAT you are modifying by the clause or phrase or you'll run into a heap of trouble.

I will be covering this in the Grammar Forum in the future.

And I really want to encourage you all to read / participate in the Grammar Forum.

I've been able to read entries in the last few months, more than I've ever been able to in my history at FW, and dare I say I am appalled at the lack of mastery of "basics," even among the Masters.

There. I said it.
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Postby pheeweed » Tue May 25, 2010 11:04 am

Anja wrote:
I will be covering this in the Grammar Forum in the future.

And I really want to encourage you all to read / participate in the Grammar Forum.

I've been able to read entries in the last few months, more than I've ever been able to in my history at FW, and dare I say I am appalled at the lack of mastery of "basics," even among the Masters.

There. I said it.


Point taken. I'm slinking over to the grammar forum.

:D
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Postby glorybee » Tue May 25, 2010 12:01 pm

Ann, thanks for stopping in.

We can all use some brushing up on our basics, that's for sure. We want this site to be the best possible!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Tue May 25, 2010 9:58 pm

Anja wrote: I am appalled at the lack of mastery of "basics," even among the Masters.

There. I said it.


Alas! Someone who agrees with me about my writing. My speling is atroshus, my grammers am sub-standard, and my story development is as shallow as a dark and stormy night. Is that why God invented editors? or should I buckle down and learn the basics?

Ann, you'll see me in your class from now on.

Jan, I will still lurk in the background in your class as well.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby danamc » Wed May 26, 2010 7:36 am

Telling:

Jacob was thrilled with his new bike. He felt like he had waited his whole life for this gift. He couldn't wait to go for a ride.

Showing:

Ripping the paper off of his gift, Jacob shouted, "This is the best birthday ever!"

He jumped on the bike and pedaled furiously down the driveway, shrieking with delight.



Thanks for your time, Jan.

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Postby Verna » Wed May 26, 2010 8:58 am

Although I seem to be fictionally challenged, I love to see a story that's well-crafted. One point that I would focus on is that the story obviously follows a plan. The author starts with an idea that is brought to a conclusion through conflict, description, dialect (even inner dialect), --all. When you get to the end, you say...ah, that's where he or she was going. It's much easier to see in a novel, but I like to see a story where a character shows growth.--Just some random thoughts here--I won't burden you with my fiction. :)
Verna

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 26, 2010 12:36 pm

Dana--well done!

(Although I'd probably expect a sentence earlier in this story, explaining how they wrapped a bicycle in paper!)

Nah, seriously? It was a good job of 'showing, not telling'. Thanks for your contribution!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 26, 2010 12:38 pm

Verna, thanks so much! Ill bet you'd write great fiction!

There are many, many stories that I "back wrote"--I saw the story taking a particular direction, and I went back and added details in the early paragraphs.

Some stories look as if the writer just barrelled through and clicked 'submit.'
Jan Ackerson

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Postby honeyrock » Wed May 26, 2010 3:28 pm

Hey Jan!

Well, I too will skitter on over to the grammar lessons! I really want to know more about the appropriate use or inappropriate use on these phrases. Guilty! Guilty!

One of the predictables I actually love is the single girl and single man starting off as "enemies" of some nature. Then there's always the boring guy who comes along but misses out to the girl's "enemy." It would be fun to see the "safe" guy win for once! Maybe he's not really so boring either!

Here's my homework try:

Hilary was not only nervous but frightened as she waited to be summoned by the sheriff. She appreciated having been given the assignment to advance her news career, but how could she bring herself to look into the eyes of a serial killer?

Hillary swiped clammy palms on the side of her slacks one more time and shifted in her seat. A small shudder escaped her lips as she groped in her jacket for a pen with trembling fingers. What are you supposed to say to a serial killer?

Okay, this brought to mind a question, don't know if you have addressed it? The difference in writing between using "in spite of" or "despite"??
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 26, 2010 3:39 pm

honeyrock wrote:Here's my homework try:

Hilary was not only nervous but frightened as she waited to be summoned by the sheriff. She appreciated having been given the assignment to advance her news career, but how could she bring herself to look into the eyes of a serial killer?

Hillary swiped clammy palms on the side of her slacks one more time and shifted in her seat. A small shudder escaped her lips as she groped in her jacket for a pen with trembling fingers. What are you supposed to say to a serial killer?

Okay, this brought to mind a question, don't know if you have addressed it? The difference in writing between using "in spite of" or "despite"??


I'll answer your question first--'despite' and 'in spite of' are synonyms, and can be used interchangeably.

I like your 'show, not tell' snippets...but take a look at the phrase I put in red. As Ann said--you have to know what your phrases are modifying. In this case, it reads as if your pen has trembling fingers.

I was intrigued by your setup, though--sounds like part of a GREAT short story!
Jan Ackerson

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