Why write short stories?

More importantly, why write holiday short stories?

I cut my teeth by writing short stories. I hadn’t tried until my RWA chapter friend and I joined forces to critique each other’s work. She asked me to read very short stories, like less than 1,000 words to sub to Women’s World magazine. Feeling a little out of my comfort zone, I thought can I do this, but said yes!

Am I glad I did!

I read six of her stories in a row and all of the sudden, a rhythm, a pattern developed in my head. I jotted down ideas and when back to them to explore. Some exploded into a story with the pattern there to guide it. Eventually, I created a few of my own shorts which came in over 1,000 words. I subbed to the True magazines and sold thirteen of them.

Here’s what my head knows:

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. Black Moment
  4. The End

We all know a bang-up beginning hooks a reader into reading more. The main characters and setting are introduced. In a short story, pretty quickly we reach a dilemma to be resolved.

In the middle, there’s relationship building if the story is a romantic one. Problems are created and lead the reader to…

The black moment. All is lost. The relationship. The problem is dire.

Then we have the scenes which resolve everything leading us to The End and a Happy Ever After.

Does this sound rather simplistic? Many people say they can’t write short. I found with the word count limitation, I learned how to write shorter. Which scenes really make the story move forward. Which adjectives and adverbs (yes, I use them) are the best. Or maybe there is something more appropriate to use.

Which leads us to…

My new holiday romantic comedy short story, “The Littlest Angel,” from the Season of Promises anthology. I have a tree-topper that is totally precious and I looked at her one day and said, “I want to write a story with you in it.”

So I did.

12-03-14-littlest-angel

 

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I walked along the aisle at my favorite flea market on the Sommerville fairgrounds, pausing to look at special goodies that caught my eye. I halted when I saw a woman ahead of me stoop in front of a table and drag a box to her feet. She reached inside the ragged cardboard container and pulled out something I knew deep within my heart was what I’d been hoping to find for several years—a little Christmas angel.

Please. Please don’t take her. Please don’t.

When I was a small child, my family’s next-door neighbor gave my mother an angel fashioned from a craft kit. The body was formed from a Styrofoam egg-shape. The hands and feet were smaller versions, cut in half. Her head was round. The limbs were attached to the body with furry, fleshy pink pipe cleaners. A round red sequin made her mouth. An even tinier one was pinned on for her nose. And silver lashes were glued in place for her eyes. White pincurls covered her head and silver wings were attached to her back.

For many, many years, I coveted this angel. When my mom switched to another tree-topper, I’d begged for the first, but she’d said no. I was disappointed, but thought, perhaps Mom’s sentiments, a letting go of her friend who’d passed two years prior, made her reluctant to give me the doll. I got that.

However, one day, I discovered she had given it to my sister instead of me. Saddened, my heart cracked in two, and when I asked Mom why, she said she’d forgotten I wanted the ornament and apologized.

I knew the angel didn’t mean as much to my sibling as she did to me. For a while, I resented my mother and my sister.

Such is life. And thus began my quest.

season-of-promises-cover

Find Season of Promises at: https://www.amazon.com/Season-Promise-Merry-Holly-ebook/dp/B01LQUP9AS/

 

Happy reading!

 

 

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “Why write short stories?

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Sharon! I did find one in almost the exact manner I used for my story. Then after my mom passed last year, we went through her things and I claimed hers because she knew how much I loved it. So I have two!

      Liked by 1 person

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Marsha! Don’t be sad. Everything can be fodder for a good story. And mine and the story’s has a great HEA. The pix of the little angel in the blog is mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kathryn Jane says:

    I look forward to your Littlest Angel story, even though I’m not a “Christmas” person!
    And I have to say, that after talking to you about writing short stories when we were in San Diego last summer, I grabbed the idea, ran with it. I’ve written fourteen so far, and will be publishing them next month… so a big thank you, my friend! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Kathryn! Thank you so much. I find my attention span works best with short stories. I’ll crank out my next book, but it takes so much longer. Hugs to you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    I love short stories. I’m a voracious reader who doesn’t have time to enjoy the longer stories. Short stories do it for me! I also write short stories. I find that poetry helped with honing my short writing. It is a way to use images in a powerful manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Nupur! I like the part you wrote about excellent training. I really believe that statement. And yes, they are fun! There’s a whole lot of them out there besides the ones we read in school.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat Amsden says:

    I started out writing short stories years ago and getting them published in now defunct magazines. I felt for you when you realized your mother had given the tree topper to your sister. And I can’t wait to read your short stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Pat! Seems my writing convinced you of something that didn’t happen. Before my mom moved to assisted living, she asked me if there was anything I wanted. I told her the little angel the neighbor had made. She said it is yours. So in reality, Mom gave it to me. But I had to make a story, have conflict. Thus, to the sister. 🙂

      Like

  4. Jacquie Biggar says:

    Hi Vicki, your tree topper story hit the sentimental nerve with me. 🙂 We had this pretty little angel that sat on top our tree when I was growing up. I always remember my dad reaching up to place it carefully just so, like a crown jewel. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jacq

    Like

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Jacquie! Our little angel was on the top of our tree for years. Then the neighbor gave mom a new one. But Mom wouldn’t give me the little angel then. I think she loved it because our neighbor was such a good woman and had made it for her.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bob Mueller says:

    Very nice! I was at a mini-con yesterday with a session on short fiction. I really want to push myself to start writing it more. I’ve got 4 ideas, which all tie in to one of my books (basically writing different episodes of backstory as shorts), but those are feeling forced.

    Still, I want to write shorts. My very first short turned into my second book!

    Like

    • vicki says:

      Hi, Bob! I’ve heard of others writing shorts to use like this. Just be careful that yours isn’t a backstory dump. Just like a book, the story has to have the elements. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s