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Write your short story – Analysis and Writing Help

Elvis Elvis

This means you – and your characters. I recently received a submission in which the main character, strong and forthright in the beginning and middle of the story, suddenly folded when faced with the final act’s big crisis: he got to the pinnacle of the climax, the big moment – and didn’t know what to do.

This usually happens because the writer doesn’t know what to do. I sympathize. We work hard. We get tired. Sometimes – particularly in short fiction – we just write the whole thing in a big rush, without an outline, and find ourselves at that critical moment with nowhere to go. We’ve already jumped before we notice there’s no safety net.

There are any number of paths you can take when this happens. My number one solution: take a break. Go do something else for a few days – write something else, or don’t write anything, watch a bunch of movies, read short stories, read plays. Anything but work on that story. Then come back and see what happens.

If that doesn’t work, play games. Write down ten possible endings for your story. If you can actually brainstorm ten possible endings for your story, you’re doing great. Pick your favorite and write it. If it doesn’t work, throw it in your file and try another.

Write your short story   Analysis and Writing Help

I love games – computer games, roleplaying games, card games (I’m a ruthless spades player, particularly partnered with my wife). Writing is a game. You play it in your own head. Remember, there is no such thing as bad writing. Sometimes things can break loose if you don’t take it quite so seriously.

If none of that works, try a craft game. Go back and take a look at your character. If he doesn’t already have one, give him a fatal flaw, a weakness that he must overcome to get through the action of the story. To balance it out, give him a saving grace, a character trait that helps him get out of a tight spot. Using his saving grace to overcome his fatal flaw might give you a good ending for your story.

This may seem overly simple, even trite. “I’m not playing stupid little games with my writing. This is serious business.”

That’s your ego talking. Your ego writes crappy stories. It will prevent you from learning new things. Shut that voice up and try the game – or make up a different game. If nothing else, you will explore and learn something new about your own work.

The one thing you should not do is allow your character to be a wallflower. Characters are proactive. They get things done (unless they’re Bartleby, in which case they prefer not to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read Herman Mellville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.” Great story.)

As a writer, you are not timid. You strike out boldly. You tell the truth, or aim to; after seven or eight rewrites, you have told the truth the best way you know how. Writing is an act of bravery. You are shoving aside the curtain, revealing the Great and Powerful Oz in all his falseness and carnival machination.

Make sure your characters act with equal bravery in the face of the great challenge. They deserve an audience – as do you.