Just Give It to Me: Clarity in Fiction

Without intending to, we sometimes withhold important information about the premise of our narratives in our attempts to be mysterious. The problem with such a strategy is it can lead to confusion. Readers can spend too much time trying to figure out the context of the story. As a result, their attention is kept from…

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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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Compression and Expansion in the Short Story

I heard Hilma Wolitzer say once that writing a novel was easy; you just brought in all the family. Her point was that the form of the novel invites a larger world than that of the short story. The novel makes room for a large cast of characters and events as well as a broad…

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