Black Friday: What If?

Cathy and I were in Home Depot on Black Friday, looking at items for our front porch Christmas display, when an elderly woman with an empty shopping cart said to me, “I used to play Santa Claus.” It was a dreary night, cold and damp, but there in Home Depot surrounded by the artificial trees…

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Pressure Points in Narratives

I’ve told this story before, so please excuse me for telling it again. It has so much to do with everything I want to say about pressure points in narrative. On the last night that my mother lived independently, a package addressed to her neighbor was accidentally delivered to her. My mother was a kind…

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Mystery and Reversal: The Art of a Story’s Middle

I’m thinking today particularly about those of us who write short stories. I know from my own experience, as well as from that of my students, that we often begin a story with a good deal of enthusiasm only to find it faltering in the middle. We spend so much time talking and thinking about…

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