Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/10758
Short Stories: May 12, 2021 Issue [#10758]

 This week: Odds and Ends
  Edited by: Shannon
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

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

Welcome to the Short Stories Newsletter. I am Shannon and I'm your editor this week.

Purchased from stock.adobe.com

Keep reading for your chance to claim an exclusive trinket!

Word from our sponsor

ASIN: 197380364X
Amazon's Price: $ 14.99

Letter from the editor

"A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film." ~ Lorrie Moore

Years ago, way back in 2010, I asked readers to submit newsletter ideas and/or questions about writing they'd like to have answered. It was a contest, and I think I gave the winner a merit badge or an awardicon or something. The winner's submission was used as the topic of my next newsletter. In addition, I answered a few of the questions that had been submitted by readers. I couldn't get to all of them, however, but I did save the unanswered ones and thought I'd go through a few today because people have the same questions in 2021 that other writers had over ten years ago.

Once you have created a character, can you place them in another role /story? Or is this being lazy?

I don't think it's lazy at all! Many famous writers have used preexisting characters in subsequent stories and the fans love it. I know I do! It's like unexpectedly running into an old friend.

T o become known for writing, where readers look for your stories, do you think an agent is needed? or is it possible to market oneself so readers will get to know a short story writer's voice and seek out his/her stories (hopefully for some monetary compensation)?

I think it depends on what the writer is looking for and the route they choose to take. In short, no. I don't think an agent is needed. I know many writers who forgo traditional publishing altogether and self-publish their work. They build their brand by maintaining a prolific social media presence, give away free copies of their books, and host giveaways where readers can enter to win signed copies or Kindle e-readers. Their fanbase spreads by word of mouth; they are able to write full-time and support themselves.

W hy do people have to hate your characters? It's just that not all bad people are all bad. They have a life; they have a reason why they became bad people. So, when one makes bad people as main characters, how should he/she write it so that the readers can hate them but still enjoy the story at the same time?

Oh, great question! It's definitely a balancing act. The first books that came to mind when thinking about a protagonist who I love and hate were Michaelbrent Collings' "Stranger" series: Strangers, Stranger Still, and Stranger Danger. The main character, Legion, is an utterly insane serial killer, but he's also a sympathetic character readers care about. The series is one of MbC's best, and Legion is beloved. Here's the author's description of the second book, Stranger Still:

Your sins are Legion, and now you belong to him.

Legion is a teacher, an avenging angel, a murderer, a madman. Born in the blood of a dying mother, raised in the underground lair of an insane father, he travels the world looking for those who keep secrets and sins. He finds those who have fallen short and teaches them the lessons they need to leave their mistakes behind, even if he has to kill them to do it, because sometimes murder is the only way to teach a proper lesson.

So when he sees a man kidnap two people on the side of the road, Legion knows it is time to teach again. Soon he finds himself caught in the crossfire of a coup in a Russian crime syndicate. He is captured, beaten, bleeding, in chains; cut off, and alone.

It’s just the way he likes it. Legion has found his students and for them, life is about to become frightening and so much ... stranger.

In order to pull this off (writing about a really bad dude--or dudette, as the case may be--readers hate while ensuring they enjoy the story), writers must make the bad guy/gal human. Give him or her weaknesses as well as strengths, sprinkle in a few good traits to temper the evil ones. Readers must be able to sympathize and connect with them on some level.

Another character I love to hate is Stephen King's Annie Wilkes. That shrew is crazy, but I love her unconditionally.

W ho do I write for? The publisher or the reader?

I believe we should always write for the reader. In fact, I believe we should write for one specific reader. Visualize him or her. What is her profession? What are his hobbies? Does she live in a trailer park or a $150,000 ranch-style home in the suburbs? Is he married? Does she have children? How old is he? What does she look like? How does he dress? What kinds of books does she read? What is his name?

Kip Langello said it best in this   2014 Writer's Digest article. It's well worth a read.

S ince joining this site I have had some wonderful experiences with some useful (and not-so-useful) feedback. One of the comments I often get with my short stories is that they seem like they should be part of a novel or a much longer piece. These comments have always puzzled me, as one can argue this of any length of story, they inevitably start at some form of mid-point (even if they begin with a character's birth, one could argue that the story of that character's parents has been missed out, and so-on).

I like to think of it as a hidden compliment. People are saying that they were so enraptured with the story that they want more of it, but I don't think this is entirely true.

So in short, I would like to hear your thoughts on what makes a short story a complete tale and what makes it seem like it needs to be lengthened.

I agree: sometimes people say short stories feel like part of a novel or a much longer piece because it spoke to them on some level and they want more. It may also be the case that readers feel like something is missing and the story feels incomplete. I am of the mind that stories will let you know how long they should be. Don't force it. Just because Joe Blow says it seems too short doesn't mean you can't tell this particular story in 2000 words or less. Look at it this way: novels are journeys (think Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey or Dan Harmon's Circle Theory of Story  ), and short stories are events.

One thing I know for sure is that it's impossible to please everyone. All you've got to do is read the "Ask & Answer" (feedback) section of any WDC newsletter to see people's opinions vary greatly. Some will love your work and others won't, but don't take it personally. You can't please everyone.

I think with your awesome talents, if you could help unveil the mystery behind what 'conflict' really is and isn't, and how it can be effectively delivered, it may help some in here relax and develop their style and stories in such a way as the words will flow.

Whew! No pressure or anything. *Laugh*

Well, conflict means different things to different people. Oftentimes when writers think about introducing conflict into their work they automatically think about physical conflict. That may be the case, of course, but it doesn't have to be. Simply put, struggle is the point at which opposing forces meet.

There are two kinds of struggle: internal (man vs. self) or external (man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. technology, man vs. fate, man vs. the supernatural, etc.). In my stories, the conflict is usually internal. For instance, "Noah's Ark [18+] is a story about a mother who blames herself for her son's death. It was an accident, of course, but we humans love our guilt. When a loved one dies we torment and torture ourselves with thoughts like If only I'd.... or I should have.... That inner turmoil, that sense of anxiety, unease, guilt, shame, or impending doom is often the most powerful conflict of all because it's something to which every reader can relate.

This little article   sums up conflict in literature quite well.

I am sometimes told that Short Stories are somewhat restrictive in terms of what can and cannot be done with POV. Apparently, the more expansive forms are allowed more leeway. Could you address that issue for us?

I am kind of old-fashioned when it comes to point of view. I think if you want your short story to read smoothly and as a concise, complete event it should be told from one character's point of view. In my opinion, shifting points of view should only occur in novels, and even then I recommend proceeding with caution. I can't tell you how many books I've read that were told from alternating or numerous points of view. Too many to count. I'm reading one now, in fact (Tears of Amber). Overall, I haven't cared for most of them. It can be and has been done successfully, but in my opinion, those works are the exception rather than the rule. Tears of Amber is an exception and reads beautifully.

Stories told from different points of view usually don't have smooth, seamless transitions from one chapter to the next. Instead, they can be quite jarring, confusing, and I occasionally find myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself whose POV I'm in. That's the gist, I think. You want readers to forget they're reading. You want them to lose themselves in your short story, to experience it right along with your characters as it happens, and that is much more difficult to pull off when the point of view is constantly changing.

Here's   an article that covers this topic in-depth.

Okie dokie, that's it! That's all I gots for today. If you have any questions or ideas for future newsletters, please respond or email me directly. I'm always happy to hear from you.

Until next time, thank you for reading.

P.S. Every registered author who shares their ideas and/or creative endeavors relating to or inspired by this week's topic will receive an exclusive trinket. I will retire this month's limited-edition trinket at 11:59 p.m. WDC time on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, when my next short stories newsletter goes live.

"I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing." ~ William Faulkner

A swirly signature I made using the Mutlu font and a drop shadow.
Newsletter Archives  (E)
A listing of all my newsletters in one easy-to-find place.
#1555482 by Shannon

Editor's Picks

I hope you enjoy this week's featured selections. I occasionally feature static items by members who are no longer with us; some have passed away while others simply aren't active members. Their absence doesn't render their work any less relevant, and if it fits the week's topic I will include it.

Thank you, and have a great week!

Surrender to Command  (18+)
Two agents confront each other over their abandoning of a dying planet.
#1683710 by hiryuu

A Shadow of Guilt  (18+)
A man's guilt becomes an obsession.
#1841572 by W.D.Wilcox

 A Visit with Aunt Jane  (E)
A young girl must spend a few days with her aunt.
#1453645 by Jaye P. Marshall

A Gift from a Monster  (18+)
A mother's grief is immeasurable, and wrath threatens to consume her soul.
#2031657 by Jimmy E. Durham, RN-BC

Do You Remember Walter?  (13+)
Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed?
#2055165 by Lynn McKenzie

Submit an item for consideration in this newsletter!

Word from Writing.Com

Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!

Don't forget to support our sponsor!

Amazon's Price: $ 19.99

Ask & Answer

The following is in response to "16 Personalities:

*Vignette5* ~

Elfin Dragon-finally published writes: The 16 personality types are an interesting theory but I've never put any stock in how personalities are typed. I've found that people really aren't just one type of personality. They are a conglomerate. Sure you may believe you see one more dominant than another, thus you may say that person is an Adventurer over a Campaigner. But that same person may switch gears when in another setting. So if you never saw them in their "adventurer" state you'd say they were just a "campaigner". We all wear different masks to suit the different aspects of our lives.

*Vignette5* ~

Beacon's Light ⚓️ writes: You know, I'm working on a character to give personality too. It was something I've been working on for awhile. I do enjoy reading your newsletters. It is very helpful for me. I hope you are doing well. Thank you for giving the information of different personalities.

*Vignette5* ~

Steven (PLEASE BUY MY BOOKS!) writes: My psychologist actually got me to do the 16 personalities test some 3 years ago now. I am an INTP-T, for what it's worth.

Not sure if I believe it, though.

*Vignette5* ~

Lilli ☕️🧿 Busy w/Quills writes: This is a great newsletter to print out and use as a reference tool while creating characters for stories!

*Vignette5* ~

Elisa, Stik of Clubs writes: I have to admit I skimmed this week's newsletter. Myers-Briggs is a pseudoscientific marketing machine even before you delve into the biases woven in how the test is constructed. Using this for character development makes me cringe hard enough to strain several critical muscles.

*Vignette5* ~

BIG BAD WOLF is Merry writes: There's always some sort of personality, otherwise it's just someone talking.

*Vignette5* ~

Sum1 writes: I am surprised to learn that I am an INFJ-A. I took this same test quite a few years ago. The only thing I remember from it, is that I was an Extrovert. I guess I've changed some over the years.

*Vignette5* ~

Goblin Slayer writes: I actually used this to characterize some of my characters in one of my books so that I could keep some consistency with my characters in that book. I found it tedious and made everything take much longer than I wanted. I may do something like that again and put it all on Worldanvil.com. This way I can look to see if my characters are keeping in line with their personalities in certain situations. I also realized that we are not all just one of these traits in each personality type. They had traits from several different personality traits which makes it even harder to track their personalities. While a nice thought, I don't think I'll use it for many more characteristics, but we shall see. I have it all printed out so I can check it all later.

*Vignette5* ~

Jeff writes: Thanks for sharing! I'm always fascinated by different breakdowns of personality types, traits, interests, etc. They can be really great ways of exploring your characters and getting to know them better.

*Vignette5* ~

Elfin Dragon-finally published writes: I can't remember if I've written a comment for this. But, while I don't subscribe to anyone the 16 personality traits...I believe we all can portray traits that suit us at any specific time in our lives. For instance, a good con man (or actor) can make us believe they possess any one of these traits; or we, ourselves, when placed under stress, can make ourselves believe we possess a trait opposite to our true nature. Personalities can be as fragile, or as strong, as we want them to be. Nothing is certain.

*Vignette5* ~

Princess Megan Rose writes: I worked in mental health and these people had personalities beyond belief. I enjoyed reading this newsletter and I would like to feel I am like Jackie Kennedy, an adventurer. Works for me. Interesting and looks like you did good research. Great, well-written newsletter.

*Vignette5* ~

💙 Carly writes: I loved the personalities article. I really like the idea of using a personality type to help give your character dimension. I myself would probably identify as a defender, but who knows. Thanks for sharing.

*Vignette5* ~

CircAid writes: Great newsletter. The only thing missing is a link to the personality quiz, unless I missed it.

*Vignette5* ~

Quick-Quill writes: I love keeping these newsletters when I start developing my characters.

*Vignette5* ~

𝓑rian KCompt-Interrupted writes: Well, there's a lot of detail in these personality types that gives me pause to consider. I could relate to a few of the descriptions. But, I can't help but feel there is no one category that fits me. I could have as much luck with a fortune cookie or an astrology chart. It's intriguing to consider how this might apply to people I'm acquainted with, and how it might help define characters for a writer. Very informative.

*Vignette5* ~

dogpack:saving 4 premium: DWG writes: Personalities make a story come alive because of the human elements, but what about the animal elements of personality. Yes, animals have their own personality types. In a dog pack, there is the leader and if the leader has a companion they both are at the head of the pack, kinds like an executive leading the employees below in the hierarchy. The pack leader is always in charge and responsible for everyone else no matter what. This is a 24/7 job. Humans who invite dogs into their families should be the pack leaders, but many do not understand this job or even know about it. When the human is not the leader then the dog fills this spot. This is the way of the dog and part of this is also something to do with personality. A dog is a natural leader or a natural follower. Even the follower will take the leader position if no one else fills this spot, but they do not want this position. Animals have different social structures that make for an interesting story.

*Vignette5* ~

Lilli ☕️🧿 Busy w/Quills writes: This newsletter is a keeper! So much good and useful info in one place. Thank you for compiling and sharing it!

*Vignette5* ~

Vaishali writes: I have read this. It is written very precisely. The writers must have spent time on it. It is lovely. Thanks

*Vignette5* ~

Patrece ~ writes: This was super informational, and i agree that it could go a long way in helping to form a character's personality to keep them unique. Character development isn't an easy task if you want to keep it 'real' in your writing. For each character, you really do need to give them a unique voice. Cookie-cutter characters are extremely boring, but characters that are all over the map with personality traits can be distracting and feel too made up. This is particularly helpful in developing a believable character(s) and I plan to keep this information for future use. Great newsletter, as always!

*Vignette5* ~

dragonwoman writes: I'm afraid to take the test of the personalities! I'm not sure I want to know, just enjoy them without knowledge may be the way to go.

*Vignette5* ~

This item was submitted by its author:

Do you know about the ones who serve daily? Who is serving? Who are they?
#2237335 by dogpack:saving 4 premium: DWG

*Bullet* *Bullet* *Bullet* Don't Be Shy! Write Into This Newsletter! *Bullet* *Bullet* *Bullet*

This form allows you to submit an item on Writing.Com and feedback, comments or questions to the Writing.Com Newsletter Editors. In some cases, due to the volume of submissions we receive, please understand that all feedback and submissions may not be responded to or listed in a newsletter. Thank you, in advance, for any feedback you can provide!
Writing.Com Item ID To Highlight (Optional):

Send a comment or question to the editor!
Limited to 2,500 characters.
Word from our sponsor

Removal Instructions

To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.

Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/10758