Spring Short Story Panel discussion


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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 5 comments Mod
A special thanks to all of our authors who are taking time from their busy lives to share their thoughts on short fiction, publishing, writing process, and more.

And thanks to all of you for joining the group! The discussion will kick off on March 14. Until then, please feel free to introduce yourselves.

message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Kessler (lisakessler) | 3 comments Hi -

I love short stories and, having published a few myself, I'm looking forward to hearing more about how the authors market and place their short tales...

This should be fun! :)


message 3: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 1 comments Hello-
I love reading compelling short stories and have written some myself. However, for some reason, all my short stories are deprived of a plot. I just can't seem to write a compelling plot with so little words. I'm looking forward to the discussion.

message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria (goodreadscomgaelikaa) | 1 comments I'm writing and have just had a short story accepted for publication.

message 5: by KT (new)

KT (morike91) | 4 comments Hello. I've been reading a lot of short stories for a creative writing class, and I've come to really enjoy the medium. Recently, I've only written short stories. I'm excited to hear what everyone thinks!

message 6: by MelizzaMakes (new)

MelizzaMakes | 1 comments Maria wrote: "I'm writing and have just had a short story accepted for publication."

Congrats, Maria! How long have you been writing? How many submissions did you do before being published?

message 7: by Ana (new)

Ana (anaelisasm) Hi! I love reading and writing short stories. Last year I got all my stories together on a book and had it published by a University press in my town (in Brasil).
I'll love to take part on the discussion, I have a lot to learn.

message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura (anjawrenn) | 1 comments Hi! I recently finished my first short story and submitted it for publication. Looking forward to this panel to learn more about writing and publication.

message 9: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Wood (msniw) | 2 comments A group like this is a breath of fresh air. I believe that the short story is the hardest and least regarded form of story telling and that the skill is also that of the cartoonist - to evoke an entire world in a few sharp strokes - and to give the reader a satisfying 'twist' at the conclusion. I, too, would like some advice re-publication but am loath to write too much about personal matters for fear of breaking the non self-promotion rule. Let's talk!

message 10: by Tim (new)

Tim | 1 comments Hey,

I've been writing short stories seriously for about two years. Still no publications, but I'm having fun doin' it.

message 11: by Maryann (new)

Maryann Uh, starting to wonder if I should be here as I have no writing ambition, just a love of short stories. So I'll just hang around for a bit and see.

message 12: by April (new)

April (tpranch) | 1 comments Hi all,
enjoy reading and writing short stories and looking forward to this discussion.

message 13: by Sue (new)

Sue Russell | 4 comments Hello--

I review short story collections for Library Journal. Looking forward to discussion.

message 14: by KT (new)

KT (morike91) | 4 comments Maryann573 wrote: "Uh, starting to wonder if I should be here as I have no writing ambition, just a love of short stories. So I'll just hang around for a bit and see."

I'm sure your lack of writing ambition doesn't matter. As a writer, I'll be interested to know what readers like you look for in short stories. What do you like to see? What annoys you? I think you can offer a lot of input. So yes, stick around! Can't wait to read what you have to say.

message 15: by Pogopapa (new)

Pogopapa (pogologist) | 3 comments Hi-- just starting to tackle short story. Favorite prompt (so far): write short paragraph (max 5 lines) that is ending of story, then write beginning.

message 16: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hi - I've always been a fan of short stories, both as a reader and a writer. I've had a couple of stories published here and there. This looks like it could be an interesting panel.

message 17: by Jemica (new)

Jemica Dabney | 1 comments Looking forward to the panel. I have been focusing on writing short stories for the last couple of years and as such have been trying to read more!

message 18: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristinen) | 1 comments Hi--I'm not much of a short story writer either. My endings are usually not very compelling, and I my characters are bland. I love the medium, though, and am looking forward to hearing what other people find helpful to their writing.

message 19: by James (new)

James (jamesburford) | 1 comments Hi all! There's nothing better than a good short story. I'm looking forward to what the panel has to say about the short story form and writing in general.

message 20: by Robin (new)

Robin (rsimondsfitch) | 1 comments Hi, All. I agree with Natalie that short stories are the hardest form of storytelling -- at least they are for me! I usually write (or try to write) novel-length works, but short stories fascinate me and I'd love to get a better grasp of them. Looking forward to the discussion.

message 21: by Jerry (new)

Jerry White | 1 comments Hi: Looks like a great group. I am a want-a-be writer and I think this discussion group will help me. Most of my work is 100, 200, 300+ flash fiction and very short stories. I am still learning the craft. Looking forward to this discussion.

message 22: by Laura (new)

Laura (goodreadscomlaurajdavis) | 1 comments Hi, my name is Laura. I usually write novels and find it difficult to write a short story. I'm looking forward to the discussion here.

message 23: by Laura (new)

Laura | 1 comments I have been writing for a while now, mainly focusing on short stories, hoping to go to University next year to study English and Creative Writing. I love Raymond Carver's work in this area of fiction.

message 24: by Eric (new)

Eric | 2 comments Been writing short stories for a few years, trying to get first one published. I'm curious what the authors' opinions are on the best way to start out. Which magazines to target, what types of stories are most marketable. Basically, how to get your name out there.


message 25: by Danny (new)

Danny | 2 comments Hi Everyone! I've started lots of "novels", but haven't finished any. I am currently revising a short story that I plan on submitting next month. I love learning about writing and picking up any tidbits of wisdom I can. Looking forward to this discussion.

message 26: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 5 comments I write both short stories and novels. I found that learning to write short stories has been difficult but rewarding. I still have a lot to learn but working as an editor on two (so far) anthologies was a wonderful way to hone my own skills.

message 27: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 5 comments Here's something that might start some discussion:
Kurt Vonnegut's cute tips for writing a short story:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.

message 28: by Krishna (new)

Krishna Battaluri | 3 comments thanks for the suggestions. i keep writing but, i do not really know were to publish or like were i can show the world my creativity. I wrote a few stories and hope i will be writing more

message 29: by Purple (new)

Purple Iris (purpleiris) I really like Vonnegut's list! I have a course on the short story that I teach every year, so I'm interested in following this discussion.

message 30: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 5 comments I think number 8 goes a bit too far. Everyone likes a surprise at the end...something they wouldn't have guessed, cockroaches notwithstanding. But I notice that less experienced writers (also remembering myself as a newbie) think that vague writing is suspenseful writing. It isn't. So I like the first part of number 8: Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible.

message 31: by Krishna (new)

Krishna Battaluri | 3 comments I actually think point number is the most important point. compared to the others

message 32: by Alan (new)

Alan Heathcock | 8 comments Mod
I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Alan Heathcock, one of the panelists, author of the story collection VOLT. I'm very excited to a part of this panel, as I'm passionate about writing, and especially about the short story. My collection just came out last week from Graywolf Press--I worked on the book for well over a decade, so it feels pretty darn good to have people reading my work. I'll say a whole lot more next week, but for now I just wanted to say hello to everyone and say how much I'm looking forward to our discussion. Have a great weekend!!

message 33: by Lori (new)

Lori (tnbbc) Hi! I'm Lori, creator and moderator of TNBBC (The Next Best Book Club) here on Goodreads. I adored Alan Heathcock's collection of short stories (Hi Alan!).

Last year was the "year of the short story" for me, and it appears, for the publishing world as well! I read so many great collections and I look forward to discussing books with all of you!

message 34: by Krishna (new)

Krishna Battaluri | 3 comments Thanks lori , we will be looking forward to learn a lot from this discussion

message 35: by Shann (last edited Mar 12, 2011 12:08AM) (new)

Shann Ray (lions1) | 7 comments Hi All,
I'm Shann Ray, and I have three daughters and a musician wife and all 5 of us love short stories. Finished Alan Heathcock's Volt this morning. Gorgeous dark star stories that hit hard and illumine far. His story "Lazarus" made me walk around my house with my head on fire, like Emily Dickenson who said a good poem makes you feel like the top of your head has been taken off--Alan's stories do just that. I have a collection of stories called American Masculine due out on Graywolf this June, and I always love to listen to people talk about stories, and to receive your influence. Thanks to everyone on the list. Happy to be a part. By the way, my first daughter Natalya and I just saw the movie The Adjustment Bureau, based on the Phillip K. Dick short story from 1954. Compelling and fascinating to see it translated to the screen 57 years later. Looking forward to this group gathered around great books!

message 36: by Emma (new)

Emma | 6 comments Hi everybody! I'm Emma Straub, author of the collection Other People We Married. So looking forward to the conversation this week!

message 37: by Janet (new)

Janet | 1 comments I haven't joined a group like this before, but I'm looking forward to figuring out how it works and I would like to try to write a short story. Also, I'm trying to take my mind off of earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. Janet

message 38: by Lori (new)

Lori (tnbbc) Hi Emma! Great reading Wed night @wordbrooklyn. I didn't get an opportunity to say hi, but I was in the crowd. Looking forward to hearing more about your collection of short stories.

message 39: by Pogopapa (new)

Pogopapa (pogologist) | 3 comments Krishna wrote: "thanks for the suggestions. i keep writing but, i do not really know were to publish or like were i can show the world my creativity. I wrote a few stories and hope i will be writing more"

There are many Journals out there waiting for submissions. I'm on the board of a non-profit, Emrys Foundation, in Greenville, SC. Emrys Journal accepts entries from anyone. Check out Emrys.org

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi everyone! I'm Danielle Evans, the author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, and one of the panelists. Thanks for joining this group and planning to spend part of your week hanging out with us. I'm looking forward to the discussion.

message 41: by Steve (new)

Steve | 2 comments I agree that those tips from Vonnegut are pretty good. Too many short story writers begin with a fog of ambiguity and then reveal answers late in the story. That requires the reader to trust the writer in a way that most writers haven't earned. Nobody's perfect, but Vonnegut's tip #4 is simply wrong. A setence that advances the subtext is just as valuable as one that advances character or action.

message 42: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 5 comments Steve: Right, but wouldn't subtext usually pertain either to character or plot (action)? The point of #4 is that short stories are weakened by the inclusion of information that isn't essential. Of course, what is essential must always be decided by the writer and opinions will vary. ;-)

message 43: by Steve (new)

Steve | 2 comments Nancy, I would say that there is the plot, and then there is, if the writer chooses, the subtext, which is the additional message that can be built in the reader's imagination, with the reader's active participation, using clues supplied by the writer. The writer's use of imagery is one good example of valuable information that might not advance character or plot.

message 44: by Eric (new)

Eric | 2 comments Nancy, I think what he is saying in #4 is what most writers are taught when working in the short story medium- you don't have a lot of space, so make the most of it. In a short story, you don't have the luxury of developing a character or plot point over four or five pages of exposition. You need the story to always be working towards the end. So every sentence needs to help you get there or help ground us further into the story. There is no time for fooling around.

message 45: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 5 comments Right, Eric. That's my interpretation too. Of course you have to establish setting and sensory cues and ground the characters in the setting as well as character and plot. But none of it can be superfluous. Always, always move it along.

message 46: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 15 comments Greetings everyone. I'm Valerie Laken, author of Separate Kingdoms (and Dream House), and one of the lucky panelists. I'm feeling oddly nervous typing this, but I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts this week on short stories in general and on these great new collections in particular. It already looks like there's a nice range of readers and writers on board.

These last few posts, by Nancy & Eric & Steve, about Vonnegut's advice for story writers, remind me of Raymond Carver's advice: "Get in. Get out. Don't linger. Go on." Someone once asked him why he'd never written a novel, and he said, "I tried once. It was the worst 2 weeks of my life."

message 47: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 7 comments Hi everybody! I'm Dawn West and I spend an obscene amount of time reading and writing fiction. I've been published in close to twenty literary magazines--my most recent published story was in Word Riot's December 2010 issue and I have a couple stories forthcoming. I'm really looking forward to this panel!

message 48: by Charles (new)

Charles Bechtel (chalieb) Kristine wrote: "...my characters are bland..."

I have a list of ten question to ask about any given character. After you complete a draft of a story, ask them (and don't take yes and no for answers.) The answers may spice up your next draft.

1) Does person smoke? 2) Does person have a hobby? 3) Did person's mother like person? 4) What hangs in person's closet for years? 5) What astrological sign is person? 6) Did/does person fish? 7) Does person like siblings? 8) Cat or dog or bird person? 9) Person's preferred shoe type? 10) Who would have sex with this person? (You can make your own list.) Good luck.

message 49: by David (new)

David Abrams (davidabrams) | 7 comments It's great to see these types of discussions taking place here at Goodreads. You've got a great quartet of writers lined up (and it's nice to see other writers like Shann Ray pop in to the conversation from time to time).

I run a blog called The Quivering Pen and, from time to time, I review short story collections and talk about the craft of writing. I haven't had the chance to read the collections from Emma, Danielle or Valerie, but I have read Alan's "Volt," and I can tell you it's a powerhouse debut. Like Shann said, they're stories that blow off the top of your head.

Looking forward to the conversation here this week.

message 50: by Bernice (new)

Bernice (BerniceOlivas) | 2 comments Hi everyone,

My name is Bernice and like everyone else here I love the short story as a form. I've read "Volt" and "Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self" and they were both amazing. I've been writing for the last five or six years and I'm really looking forward to this discussion.

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