Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Small Stories Still Need Depth and Plot

I have to say, I have been increasingly frustrated in many of the "smaller" stories out there, as well as those coming across my desk. What I have been seeing is a serious lack of substance in these smaller stories. I have a real problem with this. Just because a story is short does not, in any way mean the story needs to lack substance.

It seems to me there is a belief that just because the story is short, and may focus only on one single event means the characters, plot and growth of the story doesn't need to be there. This is far from the truth. Writing "short stories" simply means it is up to the reader to really understand plot development. I honestly have to say, some of these writers need to return back to the time when we first learned about the concept of short stories.

Remember that information? It looks something like this...
We have all seen a chart like this in the past. There are a lot of variations of this, but in every case, the essential elements are there. We start off with the exposition that is going to set up the point of the story as well as giving us some insight into the characters. Then we hit the rising action. Please note this is a serious of smaller steps that get us to the climax of the story. For some of you, we called this the dark action. Eventually we hit the falling action that shows us the characters putting the pieces together and then finally the resolution. It is in this step that we see how the characters will move on beyond this.
What am I seeing though? Characters that somehow, imediately after meeting this random stranger end up in bed and having sex. I guess it is because the writers seem to think that is the only thing that make a romance. The only conflict we have in the story and the climax is when one of the characters drops a bomb like, "You know I'm the boss" or something else really ridiculous. But then, they look at each other and the only resolution we see is "Well I guess we should get married." For some reason the characters think this is a good idea and they live happily ever after.
If the goal of the story is to be hot and steamy then fine. But please give us a plot.
If the goal of the story is to be inspirational, then fine, give me that insight but give me a plot.
Look, simply put a short story does not mean ignoring the substance. It has to be there. And I guess I simply have to say, if you can't add that substance, then either figure it out or quit writing those short stories.

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