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message 1: by Jonathan, The Wise (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 457 comments Mod
Hey guys I'm trying to write a short story but I'm kind of getting stuck right at the start. I need a good idea to kick it off because right now I'm not sure which part would be best to begin with.

My plan involves a wizarding school/academy the whole purpose of my story being allegorical. Basically it'll follow, using chapter breaks to divide time, one student who wants to gain power faster than the three to four years of study he has to do before manipulating any magic. Of course a shady figure offers him the chance, he ends up using his gifts poorly and after a time the shady figure attempts to take his payment. There'll be some kind of saving from the Grand Mage and the student will end up learning that the four or so years are necessary to teach him how and why he should use his powers properly - magic ethics in a way.

So any thoughts on that idea or how I should begin the story would be much welcome.

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) read Heywood Broun's Fifty-First Dragon then read this:

(this will spoil the story for you if you read it first)

Maybe there is some insight there about fantasy short stories with deeper meaning?

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) There's a link to the story on tail end of the webpage. It's not very long.

The website shows what a fairly sharp High School student got out of that story. I'd ask, is it what you got out of the story?

I'd say short stories need to be fast hitting, no messing around, and initial descriptions need to identify the symbol by some trait or feature that they will reprsent.

you need to "frame the question." An alegorical tale about ethics needs a frame, "what are we really talking about here?"

Then give the reader something to resist. For example. when I speak to groups about drinking I want them to be honest about drinking so I always open with some version of, "...studies show that the number one thing that people lie about is how much they drink." and then I tell a joke. The idea is, that I challenge them not to be liars so they have to actively decide to be honest or not.

Then I frame the question by asking them to tell stories (true) about people that they know who have been negatively affected by drinking. Then we aren't talking about dangers and risks to "other poeple" we are talking about dangers and risks to them based on people they know (We don't want them to embarrass themselves.) Then set up the crisis, and walk through the choices.

How that translates to a short story, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty shure it will help if you are writing an allgorecal tale. Likely it would be something like this.

describe one person in a way that he could be anyone, or anyone could Identify them. Then frame the question, have someone close to that character, in the story present or in the character's past in a way that tells us what kind of moral delima we are talking about. In star Wars, that would be the Anakin Skywalker tail. He succumbed to the dark side, this way we know Luke has to resist it or he'll be just like Vader.

Hope that helps. (and please keep in mind that I am an under educated redneck from the US with barely more than a High School education. There may be better advice out there than mine). (Under educated doesn't mean stupid, but it does indicate a possible shortage of ammassed knowledge. Life experience doesn't teach everything.)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) That'll be great, I hope I helped. I'll be happy to read the story when you get it done. I'm curious about how it turns out.

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) I've got a few things, feel free to take a read, if you like. I'm always interested in feed back. None of this is finished and most of the stories (all but two) are 10-20 years old (left laying around my computer). Still worth input for me though.


message 6: by Jonathan, The Wise (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 457 comments Mod
Cool I'll take a look from time to time for sure

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) I'll read it. I should try writing something this weekend, or cleaning up another piece of stuff left in the metaphorical writing attic.

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) Ok, I sure will.

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Fifty-First Dragon (other topics)

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Heywood Broun (other topics)