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Tag Archives: short stories

Greetings, Bearers!

Go get a cup of your preferred beverage.  Let’s sit and chat for a moment.

Before I begin with my topic, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who recently downloaded my short story “Thread. Bare.” (see the below post).  It’s received a rather warm reception with good feedback.  Considering that even my daughter likes it, that’s a wonderful thing!  If you liked it, please do me the honor of telling somebody else about it!

And now, on to our talk…

Now, this post is geared mostly for you other writers/authors out there, but even if you’re nothing more than an aficionado of good writing, please feel free to sit in on this talk and comment as well. Many voices make for interesting discussions.

I’d like to talk a little bit about the Art of the Short Story with you, and specifically about the preservation of that art.

You see, when you hear about bestselling fiction books, you generally associate those sales with novels.  And that’s understandable: people like a well-developed story with well-developed characters, and a novel provides the perfect place to do that.  After all, the greater amount of time, space, and words that an author has, the more easily those elements can be spread out and used in greater quantity.  And if you’re one of the authors out there (like me) who likes to write novels, more power to you.  Keep writing them.

But I’d also like you to think about diverting at least some of your energy to the short story.

You see, while the novel has the advantage of length, the short story, when properly crafted, possesses the opposite advantage: that of brevity.  It’s a condensed segment of a larger world, much like the difference between a still photo and a full-length motion picture feature.  Yet when properly written, the short story can tell just as complete a story as any novel, sometimes even more completely.  A reader reading a well-penned short story can come away with as much developmental satisfaction as (s)he would with a full novel, and do so within a condensed portion of time.

To carry the snapshot vs. film analogy even further, consider the paintings of Norman Rockwell.  If you’ve ever looked at his work, you don’t just see a still shot; you see a still shot of life happening.  You see people who aren’t stopping for a portrait.  Instead, they’re frozen while in the process of moving, talking, acting, interacting with each other and the environment.  And your mind, whether or not it intends to, fills in the gaps of the situation with your own contrived stories.

For example, consider this Rockwell sample from The Saturday Evening Post. Look at it and tell me what’s happening.  Who catches the boys in the middle of their swimming party?  How long had they been there?  Note the boys that are half-dressed: did they do that as soon as they got out of the lake (or was it a river?  Who says it can’t be a river) or did they scramble ashore, snatch their clothing up, and stuff feet into shoes and arms into sleeves while in the process of running for their lives?  What about the dog?  Did the dog bark and give away their little getaway to a passer-by?  Was the person who caught them somebody they knew? A parent? A policeman?  A group of people?  Is that person (or those people) standing there shouting, or chasing after them in hot pursuit?

Even as I write these questions and glance at the picture, my mind is putting together its own possible answers and sketching a story.  And the beautiful thing is that Rockwell makes us do all of this with a single painted picture.  We don’t need a movie, or even a short film clip, to put the story together.  Rockwell put things in motion, and with our imaginations we gave those things our own imagined starting points and destinations.

And we can do the same thing with our short stories.

Another advantage about short stories is the “hit-and-miss” probability that works in our favor.  One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, while addressing an audience at Point Loma Nazarene University in California (see video link below) made this excellent point, which I will now paraphrase: You can spend one year of your life writing a bad novel; but it’s hard to spend a year of your life writing a short story a week and write fifty-two bad short stories.  The man is right, and I say that as somebody who likes writing novels as well.  The more you write, and the more various things you write, the more likely you are to put something out there that people will like (unless you’re just outright not trying to write well).

I’d like to throw out a little challenge to those of us writers/authors out there who like our novels, and it’s something I put myself under as well.  I challenge us to set aside a brief amount of time each day and try to craft a good short story.  Make it deliberate; don’t let it blossom into a novel.  Try to cap it, make it work within four pages or six thousand words, or whatever limit you want to place on it.  Try to do with your short story what Norman Rockwell did with his pictures: capture a segment of life in motion, and let that segment become a world of its own.

Immerse yourself in short stories.  Read Bradbury.  Read Stephen King.  Read Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Flannery O’Connor.  Go to your library, or local bookstore, or go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Look up short story anthologies.  Read them.  Learn from the best and graft their techniques and styles into your own.  As Bradbury said: good writers borrow.  Great writers steal.

For myself, I doubt I could pull off Bradbury’s challenge of one short story per week.  But, I think I can try one per month.  Some of them I’ll post here for free; others I’ll make part of the Surrealities series on Smashwords, and will someday (soon I hope) compile them into a single unit of short stories for sale, like I did with Alternate Endings.  I’ll probably write novels between now and the day I draw my final breath in this world.  But I’m going to make the short stories a bit more deliberate and planned, too.

So give it some thought.  And please feel free to send me some feedback.

Thanks for reading this.  As a parting gift, I’ll leave you two links below.  One is the aforementioned Ray Bradbury  video.  The other is a video interview with Stephen King about short stories, which I believe you will find to be interesting as well.

Okay, enough prattle from me.  Can’t write when I’m writing… wait…. 😀

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Youtube: “An Evening with Ray Bradbury”

Youtube: “Stephen King on the craft of Short Story Writing”

Greetings, Bearers!

Finally, after years of wandering in the wilderness (read: being nitpicky about how my stories look to the point of being neurotic), I am pleased to say that Surrealities, Part I, is now available on Smashwords  for only 99 cents! 

(Pause for the audience to say “It’s about time!” 😀 )

So come on over and check out my first installment of a series of short stories that range from science fiction to outright horror.  Each part of Surrealities will have a bit of a different theme, although all of them will include something unusual and off-kilter (just like me!).  And my intention is that the next installment won’t take nearly as long for publication, so you should be seeing Part II coming out much sooner… so long as I am not abducted by aliens.  Again.

Okay, back to insanity for me.  Enjoy the stories, and let me know what you think of them!  And as always, if you like them, tell other people about them!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I’m just about finished with my first installment in the “Surrealities” series, which consists of a pair of short stories being released on Smashwords.com for your enjoyment.  Prepare for an announcement of release soon!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

And now I rejoice in that the second short story for my mini-set is now fully written!  Upon finishing the editing and getting a cover, I’ll be making it available on Smashwords for only 99 cents very soon.  Those of you who have been waiting for me to put out some new material, thank you VERY much for your patience.  I shall be giving more information as things progress!

As for Kran, I’m still working away at editing it, and Bherta is continuing to come along quite nicely.  I’m beginning to think that I’ll be hitting the market with a double-barrel barrage of new works in the next few months!

So hang in there, dear readers!  It’s coming!

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Alas, all is not well in my world today.  That being said, neither is all lost.

I know I’ve been hyping it up with the upcoming book cover that I was supposed to have ready for you guys to see.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.  Due to some problems that came up and did not get resolved, the cover for Alternate Endings has to be put on hold for just a little while longer.  Let me say at the outset that I appreciate the time Kim at Hot Damn Designs gave me, and I wish her the best in her future endeavors. 

Now, with that being said, I’ve been delivered a few names for a few other designers, all of whom have produced very good works of art, and I’ve already contacted a couple of them.  I don’t want to say too much right now, as nothing is set in stone, but once I get some more things ironed out, hopefully the cover will be back on track.. no pun intended (you’ll see what I mean about that later on 😉 ).  When I get some more info, I’ll be getting back to you guys on it.

And while I’m thinking about it, I once again want to extend a hearty welcome to those of you who are new Bearers!  Please enjoy the books as well as the short stories and poems on Smashwords, and let me know what you think via comments!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

My short story collection is almost finished.  I’m waiting on the cover to show up, and have to say that I’m getting more and more excited by the day.  When the cover shows up, you who frequent this site will be the first to see it.  I hope to hear from you about your thoughts regarding the cover when it’s up!

Alas, I must report some sad news: as part of the story collection, I will be including my free short stories, and as a result I intend to take down two of the three stories, Fraidy-Cat and 10:15 , from Smashwords.com (I will leave Nick up there for perusal, as well as my poems and, of course, the novels).  So if you’d like to check out my free stuff while it lasts, check out the links above to read the stories, before they go.

I have to admit, I’m pleased with the readership of the short stories.  They’ve gotten many downloads, and it’s pleasing to see so many people get enjoyment from the material put out there.  If you liked what’s already been offered, then I’m sure you’ll like Alternate Endings when it’s finished up.  The stories are fresh and new, and will be sure to entertain!

Okay, no more yakking.  Back to work for me! 

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Two days away from that yummy turkey, and already my mouth is watering!  I’m finicky about turkey-to me, it’s a dry meat, and bland.  I don’t like to have it too often, and outside of Thanksgiving I usually don’t, so when I get one cooked to a golden brown with succulent juice running down the side, all accompanied by mashed potatoes, pies, stuffing, and… well, you get the idea 😀

Anyway, things are going well on the writing front.  Getting a few more sales for Clade Josso and Old Velt here and there, and I’m considering putting up sections of Kran on the bookmato site.  I found out how it works: essentially, you can put up pieces of your work for people to read, and charge the price per chapter.  Personally, I’d rather put two chapters up at a time, as I feel that’s a better value for the reader, and will garner more interest for curious newcomers.

On the short story front, my piece for the RedAdept challenge is almost finished. The hardest thing for me to do on a short story is to keep it short: I have to keep the concepts somewhat small, otherwise I’ll end up with novellas-and that’d be fine, if I wanted novellas, but I don’t, so… well, you get the idea here too 😀

So on to writing and preparing to dine like Jaws at a pool party!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean