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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How I Write A Short Story

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I've always loved writing and reading.  I truly believe I developed my love of stories from my adventures with my dad in the living room of our old house when I was a small child! (See Short Story Monday - The Wall)

Both my parents read to me often.  As a child in elementary school, I always had my nose buried in a book or magazine. I still do.  I used to read novels as I commuted on the Long Island Railroad to work in New York City back in the 1980's. There were times I'd stay up all night reading during the dead of winter on a cold, snowy night when I was in my 40's.

English was my favorite subject and I excelled in English, Writing, Literature, Grammar and Spelling. Amazingly enough, many writers are horrible spellers, however, I am not one of them.


There was a writing contest when I was in elementary school  We had twelve elementary schools that each had six classes per one grade level with about 30 children in each class.  The contest was district-wide and I won!  It was so exciting.  I remember my dad saying, "That's 12 elementary schools X 6 classes in each school = 72 classes.  72 classes X 30 children in each class = 2,160 participants and you won!"  He was so proud.  I found out not long ago that he saved the story I wrote.


The assignment was to take an inanimate object and bring it to life.  My story was about a pencil.  As it was sharpened, it aged.  The pencil travelled.  It started in the hands of a young child, ventured into New York City on the Long Island Railroad, made it into a large law firm, befriended a bum, and had many adventures.  It met many people from all walks of life, rich, poor, good, bad.  It celebrated the holidays of many different religions, depending on who it wound up in the hands of at that particular moment.

All through elementary school, junior high school, high school and college I had teachers, professors and guidance counselors tell me I should write.  I was also always told I should be a lawyer.  I had the grades for both.


I recently submitted one of my short stories to a Writer's website and, as you can see above, it will be posted!!!!  I wasn't sure it had been received as I kept getting strange messages on my computer, however, it was and they loved it, per the email above.

Throughout the years I've taken many writing courses, seminars, joined writing groups at the library and wrote articles for various schools.  At every job I had, I was noted for my writing skills and put in charge of editing letters from not only the employees, but also from the owners/bosses.  At my last government position, before a letter would go out, I'd be asked to proofread it!

I have proofread and edited many college papers,.  I excelled in writing papers when I was in school. I also edited a Thesis.  In my particular college, in order to obtain my Bachelor's Degree, I had to write a Thesis.  My niece attended the same college and she too had to write a thesis.  My now brother-in-law, then sister's boyfriend, asked me to proof one of his papers for college.  I made so many corrections, he gave up and told me he wasn't sending me any more!!!!


So... when someone told me the other day, "you have to be a good bullshit artist to write stories," I had to laugh.  Far from it.  Completely inaccurate.

How I Write A Short Story:

Bullshit is the furthest thing from my mind. I actually choose to be factual.  I research before I write. I do take creative liberty, however, I'm not writing fantasy, hence, I try to keep it as authentic as possible.
  • I come up with the basis of a story.  It pops into my head at any moment.  I could be in the shower, driving, watching a movie, at a doctor's appointment.  You get the idea.  
  • Whenever I get an idea, I type notes into my phone.  Years ago, I carried around a small pad in my purse for the same purpose.
  • I do not necessarily know where the story will go when I start putting words on "paper."  In modern times, typing on my computer.
  • Stories morphe as I write.  I may have an idea in mind, but my direction will change and the story will even surprise me! 
  • I write, rewrite, edit, read and reread over and over.  
  • I do not have an editor but recently did have an editor take a look at one of my stories.  She sent it back saying, "very little edits."  The edits were basically a missed comma, a forgotten quotation, the slight changing of wording, etc.

Very successful, famous writers have editors.  Sometimes, there are a ton of edits from their editor. Sometimes, there are very little edits.  For more information on how this works, visit this article. Here is another excellent article on writing and talent.

I hate to disappoint the person who decided I must be a great bullshit artist, however, I must admit, I'm terrible at making up a story off the top of my head.  It actually requires hard work, writing, re-writing, reading, editing, thinking it over for a while, reading it again, then again, making changes, editing it again and then, when I'm finally done, I realize, wow, that sentence would sound much better if I changed that one word!  


Developing a story takes hard work.  I'm not bullshitting you!  

"The moment I finish writing it is pure pride and glory, like giving birth.  When I re-read it is another story, and I start to worry. Is it too long or too short, too fast or too slow, did I get the message across, is the story interesting enough, is the writing okay, or do I sound dumb?  Re-reading it is like looking in a huge magnifying mirror where you see every pore, speck and flaw on your face.  And then, finally, I send the book to my editor, and the real worrying begins." Danielle Steel  Excerpt from It’s Always the First Time for Me

Writing helps ease my anxiety which is due to all my medical issues.  It eases my mind, eases the boredom and makes me feel productive.  (See Why Am I Not Posting Recipes? Because IT Has Started Again!)

To follow my story: (See Someone Asked Me Today How I Deal With...)


NEW SHORT STORY MONDAY POSTED ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2O17 - See below

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