Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2300355-Thoughts-on-Craft
Rated: E · Article · Contest · #2300355
Suggestions on Craft for the Tales Shown Not Told contest.
Thoughts on craft for entries in the Tales Shown Not Told Contest.

Every story has unique strengths. Stories are more than the sum of thier parts, but we've listed below some of the things judges in the "Shown, Not Told Contest Contest might take into consideration.  Authors might think about these while polishing their stories.

Show don't tell..  Reveal the information in the story through the words and deeds of the characters not through author narration.  You may use the emotions and thoughts of the point-of-view character as well, but only after the reader is embedded in that character's head.  Do not have the characters sitting around telling each other stuff they should already know--that's still narration, not showing.

Opening paragraph.  This should name the point-of-view character and put the reader inside that character's head.  It should answer at least some of the other basic who-what-when-where-why-how questions.  It should at least hint at the basic conflict of the story. It should start in the middle of action, in the here-and-now of the story. 

Characters. Every character should want something, i.e., have a goal. For major characters, something bad should happen if the protagonist fails to achieve their goal--that establishes the stakes.  Finally, something or someone has to stand in the way of the goal--the obstacles.

Tension Conflict arises through the opposition of goals of obstacles.  The outcome of the conflict matters because of the stakes.  These three--goals, obstacles, and stakes--work together to create tension, the engine that drives your story.  Expanding the goals, raising the stakes, or increasing the obstacles increases the tension.

Plot.  At a minimum, a story should have a beginning that establishes the status quo.  It should have a middle where most of the action occurs and that shows the characters in conflict. It should have an ending that  establishes the status quo after the action.  The status quo at the end will likely be different in some way from the beginning, but not necessarily.  The ending will also likely show how the protagonist has changed.

Setting.  This includes staging--show where the characters are in relation to each other and the physical world.  Setting should also establish the central elements of the fictional world.  Be sure to keep these descriptions in the head of your point-of-view character.  However, once you've established the point-of-view, arguably everything on the page is something that character has sensed, thought, or knows.

Point of View.  The best advice here is keep it simple.  For a short story, pick one and only one character to provide the point of view.  The narrative can be third person, limited to this character's point of view, or first person in this character's head.  Don't try something exotic like a second person narrative unless you think you're Hemingway (hint: you're not).  Avoid omniscient narrators--this isn't 1890 or even 1980. 

Technical Proficiency. This includes things like readability, spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
© Copyright 2023 Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 (mathguy at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2300355-Thoughts-on-Craft