Writing the Short Story: A Hands-On Program

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F+W Media, Sep 15, 1994 - Reference - 213 pages
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When it comes to fiction, short doesn't mean simple. The short story, with its concentrated plot and characterization, is one of the most demanding writing forms. If you believe that you can simply come up with a vague plot idea, start writing, and ten pages later you'll have a story, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Successful short story writers start out with a plan. They know their characters and they know what they want to say before they start their first draft.
Bickham shows you how to plan and write any short story from start to finish. This book is a series of progressive lessons; the exercises of each chapter must be completed before you move on to the next. If you follow this systematic plan, you will have written at least one short story and will have gathered material for many more by the time you finish the book.
Bickham starts with an exercise designed to help you discover more about yourself, discover what truly excites you so that you can impart greater feeling to your writing. As the book progresses, he takes you through lessons that will help you design strong characters, plots and settings.
Throughout, he includes special "Time Out" sections that take you inside the story writing process. In these, you'll find the keys to unlock your potential as a writer.
In one section, he reveals the infrastructure common to all short stories, from cozy mysteries to the wildest avant-garde literature. Then he discusses three other major story components - description, internalization and action - and shows you how to assemble these parts to keep your plot moving and your readers interested.
In other "Time Outs," you'll learn about everything from psychological theories you can use to explore your characters to devices such as flashback and dialogue.
After you've got your story blueprint laid out on a series of color-coded index cards, Bickham takes you through the revision process and on to the marketing process. In these final chapters, he provides plenty of advice on tactically analyzing your story, polishing your prose, locating appropriate markets, and charting your long-term future as a short story writer.

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Beginning to select your characters

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About the author (1994)

Bickham is a former creative writing professor.

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