Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Short Story Challenge

Just for fun and to keep my mind engaged in non-political complexity, I am going to play around with short story structure and finish two half-written stories that follow particular structures borrowed from short stories I love. One story follows the format in one of Nancy Zafris' stories in The Home Jar: Stories, "If A Then B Then C." The other uses a "you" point-of-view, which I've never done before - this is borrowed from Karin Lin-Greenberg's "Designated Driver" in Faulty Predictions
Faulty Predictions
Both of these collections are really great. I found Faulty Predictions to be a lesson in point of view. 
The Home Jar demonstrated for me how to not overexplain and the importance of leaving some details open to the reader's imagination. The ending of "The Home Jar" will stick with me forever - read it, and you'll know what I mean.
The Home Jar
Am going to try to finish the drafts of both stories today (the novel will wait another day) and submit one of them to the Kenyon Review Fiction Contest (the deadline is next week). Anyone with me? The word count limit is 1200.
The prize for this very competitive competition is a scholarship to attend the 2017 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, which is an amazing workshop that I was lucky enough to attend last year. The fiction workshop is generative. You come in with your body and a laptop (or pen and paper if that's how you roll) and are given thoughtful instruction and prompts before noon. After noon, you write a new story, often an impossibly tiny new story. The next day, you share it with the class and get it critiqued. By the end of the week, you are changed. I walked out of there as if I was wearing different glasses when doing line-level revisions to my novel. It's expensive, but do it anyway.


  1. Good luck with the stories. That workshop sounds intense.

  2. Now I'm really curious about The Home Jar and its ending - need to read it. Good luck with your stories!
    Right now I need to keep my mind off politics as much as possible for my own sanity.

    1. Definitely read it. The whole collection is great. Nancy Zafris is an Ohio writer and an incredible instructor - if you have an opportunity to take one of her workshops, do it. Life changing.