|Short Stories: October 14, 2009 Issue [#3284]|
This week: Edited by: Shannon
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Welcome to the Short Stories Newsletter. I am Shannon and I'm your editor this week.
What's Your Motivation?
Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly. ~Stephen R. Covey
Do you ever stop to wonder why people do the things they do?
Let's pretend your friend recommends a movie she watched about a beautiful blonde American woman who has an affair with an illegal Korean immigrant she meets at a clinic. Infidelity turns you off, and you find yourself wondering, Why the heck would I want to watch something like that? On the surface, the character sounds selfish, dishonest and deceitful, and you instantly dislike her.
But what if your friend tells you the woman, Sophie, is married to a very rich, powerful Korean-American businessman named Andrew who, unbeknownst to him, is unable to father children? That the pressure from family, coupled with the shame of being unable to produce an heir, has driven Andrew to the depths of despair and a suicide attempt? What if your friend tells you that Sophie is completely devoted to her husband and can't imagine life without him? What if your friend explains that the clinic where Sophie meets Jihah, the illegal Korean immigrant, is a fertility clinic? What if your friend tells you that Jihah looks a whole lot like Andrew?
Holy frijoles! Suddenly a boring, run-of-the-mill infidelity story has more twists and turns than Lombard Street. Imagine the possibilities! What if Andrew finds out? What if Jihah decides he doesn't want to give up the child? What if he wants visitation? What if he wants to blackmail Sophie? What if Andrew has Jihah deported or killed? What if Jihah and Sophie fall in love?
Are you suddenly more interested in Sophie's story? Do you have to know what happens? Luckily for you this is the premise of Never Forever by writer/director Gina Kim.
This is what we should be striving to achieve with our writing: multidimensional, empathetic characters and tortuous storylines that suck the reader in and keep them begging for more.
"To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it." ~Bunker Hunt
Until next time,
|ID: 1606252 (Rated: 18+)|
Silence is not always golden ... 3rd place 10/2009 Quotation Inspiration Contest
by Mara ♣ McBain
|ID: 1599200 |
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The following is in response to "Short Stories Newsletter (September 16, 2009)"
spidey says, "Excellent Newsletter and some great writing advice! Thanks! " Thank you, Spidey! And thank YOU for reading!
Bluesman says, "You are correct! Sharing the story is daring, and opening yourself up for criticism early in the process. But, my problem is ownership. This is mine, miNE, MINE!!! I don't want anyone reading until I'm sure I'm through. Sort of silly isn't it? Well? That's the way I feel." I don't think it's silly at all, Bluesman. I usually don't reveal anything either until I'm pretty sure it's done, but the readers always find something (one misspelled word, a missing comma) with their fresh eyes that I missed ... every stinkin' time! LOL Thanks for the feedback!
hbar says, " Your newsletters are always worth reading Shannon. Well done. Thanks." Thank you, John! I appreciate that very much.
Fyn says, "Another reason why your movie has lots (!) to do with writing ... before it was a movie, it was a screenplay and chances are, before that... a book!" This documentary was a home video montage narrated, shot and edited by the filmmaker as he and the victim (his best childhood friend) grew into adulthood. It also contained home video of their families and friends at birthdays and Christmases as well as the courtroom proceedings that ensued after the murder. He originally intended to give the finished tribute video to his murdered friend's unborn child so he'd have the opportunity to "know" his father, but a series of unfortunate events convinced him to make it into something bigger--something for the whole world to see. Dear Zachary wasn't a book, but the lessons we writers can glean from watching it are priceless. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, fyn!
Inker-AZ Heat Ahead! says, "Thank you for this newsletter. I enjoyed it and learned to pay attention to my characters in my story writing." You're welcome, and thank YOU! I'm glad you liked it.
LJPC - the tortoise says, "That's really good advice about re-writing. I think that most of us have a hard time with it. Our words are like little chicks and we can't just throw one out of the nest, much less several at a time! What will the poor things do out in the scary world, all alone? If I spent as much time re-writing my stories as I do writing emails to fellow WDC members, then there would really be some progress! Well, got more emails to send..." My problem is I tend to rewrite when I should be writing! LOL I'll never finish a novel because I want each chapter to be perfect before I move on to the next one rather than just getting the dang thing down on paper. *sigh* Thanks so much for commenting, Laura. I'm glad you enjoyed the NL.
Stephanie says, "Shannon, a simple little trick I learned for giving life to your characters is to give them full names, first and last. Of the thirty-one characters on your list, all but one has a full name. I don't know why it works, but I first noticed it when my friend would tell me stories from his childhood. He always gave me full names for each of his childhood friends, no matter how minor their role in the story, and it made them seem so much more real to me. As you said it, I felt like I actually knew them or wished I had." Excellent point, Steph! The only character on my list without a last name (Piggy) was a character from Lord of the Flies--a story that haunts me still. And I agree with you. I think giving your characters first and last names makes them more real.
❦ Reviewing to Premium says, "I loved this newsletter. Friends are wonderful to have read, but make sure they will be honest before you give them your MS. I asked a young self-published author who edited her MS. Friends. After I read the book, they did her no favors. I felt bad for her. She had a good idea, but There were big chunks missing and her friends couldn't see them or didn't tell her." Exactly! Asking friends to give you their opinion is very different than asking them to edit your work. Make sure the people you ask to edit your work know what the heck they're doing. Excellent point! Thanks for the feedback.
Coolhand says, "Spot on newsletter, Shannon. I couldn't agree more. Characterization is the key to the readers' heart. It sounds simple, but it can't be overstated. I always get so excited when a new character begins to take shape." Me too, Coolhand, especially when I know in my gut the character is a winner (and I always know right away whether something will hit a home run or not). I'm glad you liked the NL, and thanks for reading and commenting.
DRSmith says, "A terrific newsletter Shannon, with much more substance than many in here might initially think. I hope they take heed as it's one thing to see reviews focused on techie or suggestive edits, yet another to sometimes gain the most rewarding, encouraging, and valuable input however cloaked in unabashed, but genuine reflections of reader impact, ie: 'I can't get this piece out of my head'; 'I started out looking for errors, but that gave way to sheer wonder'; 'I knew I shouldn't have read this first thing in the morning as now my emotions are all out of whack and I'm trying not to sob'; I want to read more. I want there to be more....' et al. You get the drift." Precisely! THAT is how you want to affect your readers. Thank you, Doc!
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