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Short Stories: March 25, 2020 Issue [#10091]

 This week: Sheltering in Place
  Edited by: Jay
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Sheltering in Place

Some thoughts on weathering the days to come.

Word from our sponsor

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Creative fun in the palm of your hand.

Letter from the editor

We find ourselves settling in to a strange time.

A time in which we are encouraged to be urgently productive while we figure out new paths forward. A time of isolation, a time of sheltering in place. In the US, this goes against the grain for a lot of folks, but it is an essential thing, non-negotiable. Around the world, the variation of responses has been interesting to witness, but on the whole, we humans will have to adapt to our new reality--of sheltering in place.

I don't often write personal work for these newsletters because it feels off, to me, to broadcast too much of my day-to-day life. Some of my work experience drifts in, or little details that set up a thought about something related. It's natural. Today I'm thinking a lot about my career and what I want, and what's changing in the world around me, and feeling sort of hapless through it.

(I'm not interested in debating the response to Covid19, for the record - I live in the urban sphere of Manhattan; the disease is very real and the effects of shelter in place are not debatable for me! But the adjustment to my new household schedule has been a big shift, and I'm processing the way anyone might process in any situation that alters their reality.)

It's really important to our creativity to take times like this, when we can, especially if we don't have other pressing concerns--and many of us will, to be sure--and do little things to remind us what's important, to remind us that there's more to life than the news cycle.

It's going to be a hard time for the creative industries for the foreseeable future; well beyond any of the expected economic forecast whatever (and I really do mean whatever) we are heading into a time of hardship and death and sadness. Sometimes it's not going to be possible to create amazing things because there are simply more important things to do.

Take care of yourselves, my friends--and if you can? If you have the time, and the inclination, and the emotional weather for it?

Write something. For yourself, for your friends, for the people in your life that you care about most. It can be whatever you want, but if you have the space to be creative right now, there's never going to be a better time for it. Make stuff; break stuff; tell stories; remind yourself what you love. We need thoughtfulness, we need joy, and we need stories.

Take care and Write on!

Editor's Picks

Picks for this issue!

 Ten Minutes Remaining  [ASR]
A superhero battle from a different perspective, ten minutes before the New Year.
by Abby Gayle

Hooked  [13+]
Cody's a bull rider with a decision to make: family or career A Flash Blog Contest Entry
by 🌓 HuntersMoon

 The Warring Monk  [E]
A story of a young man coming to grips with the treachery of his older brother.
by dogwood212

Winter Fun  [E]
Join Stephanie and her family on a day of sledding fun.
by ~QPdoll

 Magical Mayhem (1st Place)  [E]
Nurmen thought he sent his neighbor far enough away to steal his gold...
by BScholl

What lies at the bottom  [13+]
Sometimes, what glitters is gold.
by Jaelynn ⛄

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Word from Writing.Com

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Ask & Answer

Feedback from: "Identifying Growth Opportunities

Odessa Molinari smiling writes:
I know where my failing is - brevity. I've got the plot, I've got the characters, but the action moves at such a pace I end up short on words. Great for flash fiction, not too bad for short stories but disasterous for novels.

Brevity is a difficult task even for a skilled writer! My personal tip for this issue is to write the scene as long as it needs to be in order to get it out of your head, and then revise when the whole story is complete! You may find lots of excess words in there after the fact -- sometimes the ones that were important for you to tell the story to yourself aren't actually necessary in the end. It's an ongoing battle for a lot of writers!

Osirantinous writes:
Firstly, thanks for highlighting my short story! That's actually going to be a scene in my upcoming Book 3. And it's a good example, I think, of my weak point as a writer - settings and being descriptive. I'm very character focused and I can't actually easily spot themes or maybe even recognise a plot. I'm definitely not good at describing thing very well in terms of settings. I suspect a lot of my stuff comes across like two characters are having a fabulous dialogue in a square concrete grey room for all the detail I give location. However, this story... the setting needed to be strong to make sense (and in a limited number of words) and I think I did it well. It's kind of my pin-up for doing better.

I think it's great that you've found some good ways to practice! I also have a lot of difficulties with setting, so I have to put a lot of extra energy into them. I feel like you've done a good job of describing the things you want to work harder on!

brom21 writes:
I inadvertently worry about info dumping. I have tried to work on this. Recently, there has been little to no critiquing on this issue. So I may have improved if not conquered this little monster. Yet I am still careful about this vulnerability. I am confused about where to draw the line that marks dumping. After all the only way is to reveal plot and portray personality is through dialog and reflection.

There's no right or wrong way to do it, but it sounds to me like you've got a good start at least! I think the "line" for info dumping is whether or not it stops being fun to read, but I'm biased. You can always trim it when you're done writing.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 writes:

I loved this newsletter! I've been struggling with short stories lately, and I think my strength is similar to yours. You know, Hitchcock said that the audience--or in our case, the readers--care about the characters. The plot, he said, is there to give the characters something to care about.

Since I'm character focused, I try to give my character a goal, then establish stakes and obstacles. From that, I get tension and, hopefully, plot. But that doesn't always work when it's the *situation* that matters.

Aw, thank you, Max! I feel like I completely agree with Hitchcock there, there is a lot tied up in character for me that's somewhat intractable otherwise! I feel like I usually get plot from the obstacles part, but sometimes a situation suggests itself that is too interesting to ignore!
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