A blog by an independent author with a particular interest in short stories.
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Review of “Her Last Christmas” by Melonie Phillips
Summary: Christmas is a trying time for the aged, and it is no different for Mary Beth. But this year she has a secret. A tender yuletide tale perfect for the holidays, or any other time of the year.
Review: This is a cute little story about a bereft family of a fallen soldier and their elderly neighbor helping each other through a tough Christmas. It contains such religious undertones as are expected in a seasonal piece but does not proselytize. It stands in serious need of copyediting. The plot twist falls a little short of O. Henry but has a pleasant aftertaste. A quick and easy read.
How did you become interested in short stories? As a reader, I fell in love with short stories as a kid. Especially Edgar Allen Poe. Then Lovecraft and anything bizarre and weird I could get my hands on. I plowed through magazines like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but really I became an indiscriminant reader, consuming anything and everything. Unlike most authors, I wasn't pounding away at a typewriter in the womb. I didn't start writing until my mid-30's. Wow, that's ten years ago now. After writing several deservedly unpublishable novels I started on short stories and began having lots of fun. My goal this year is to create 50 new short stories. I'm currently writing my seventh and having a blast doing it. As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why? Absolutely. The problem many authors I've talked to have is they have too many ideas. Writing short stories allows you to explore more ideas in a shorter amount of time. As far a…
For those of you that missed the bandwagon, Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post that spelled out the math behind making a living with short stories. It's an interesting post. Well worth the read. It's also the same thing I said six months ago but it's always nice to know others support your theory =)
The general gist of his post as that you have to bank on both quality and quantity. As a short story writer, you have to crank out new stories constantly and be versatile enough to spread yourself out to different genres. I agree with all of that. What I didn't agree with was that he suggested pricing standalone short stories around 5,000 words at $2.99.
Which is why it was interesting to me that he followed that up with another post on book pricing. He talks about consumer expectation. People have been conditioned to pay $5 for a coffee. Whereas in ebook land we have a whole crowd of authors that essentially know nothing about pricing models so we shoot ourselves…
Plot, by definition, is the main events in a story or play. A key thing to note here is that plot shapes the story like the framework for a house. Details should be filled in but without logical framework the structure will collapse.
Something that I see during the beta reading process is the trap of directionless plot. To continue the construction metaphor, the author gets so fixated on putting one piece of framing in a particular space that he fails to notice how it might affect the entire structure.
Every piece of plot should build off each other. Do the characters really need to explore that mysterious tomb? Or do you just want to have a scene where it might be cool to fight the living dead? How does exploring that tomb add to the other plot points?
Now, this is not to say that there cannot be subplots that veer away from the main plot. In longer stories, subplots and character development are what make a story memorable. But the main framework should always be in focus. …