I had the good fortune to attend a webinar with Elizabeth Sims on Short Story Writing for Publication.
Elizabeth is the author of one of my favorite how-to writing guides, You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams.
The class was hosted by Jane Friedman, who offers insightful blog posts as well as reasonably priced ($25) online classes of interest to writers.
What I learned:
- To be an effective writer, it can help to analyze other people’s work you read.
- Write freely and without restriction: If it didn’t have to be pretty, what would you write?
- To free up your writing, you must be willing to dwell in uncomfortable territory.
- If your first draft isn’t crummy, you haven’t thrown your all into it.
- Dump the perfectionism.
- The key to plot development is to ask questions (What if …? Yes, and . . .). This will open your story like a flower.
- Agents (and editors) want STRONG, BOND-PROOF CHARACTER MOTIVATION.
- Characters in a dilemma are fascinating, because we wonder what we’d do in the same situation.
- Agents (and editors) like the hero’s adventure because readers respond to it.
- Instead of just one main problem, give your character(s) two to enrich the story.
- Don’t rush your ending. Let the reader understand the final and complete story.
- Economy is crucial in a short story: few characters and minimal plot.
- Polish your story and make it bright.
- Don’t shy away from deep themes in a short story (death, loss, betrayal).