A “mainstream” short story can be about anything: a mood, a character, a setting, even a flashy writing style. A genre (SF or fantasy) short story is about an idea. The fictional elements (character, plot, setting, etc) are only there to dramatize the idea. Here are the rules for the SF (or Fantasy) short story.
Archive for the ‘Advice for New Writers’ Category
Today the board of directors of SFWA voted to add Redstone Science Fiction to the list of SFWA qualifying markets. Just celebrating its first year online, this market features science-fiction short stories and essays. They have published SFWA authors such as Cory Doctorow, Vylar Kaftan, and Cat Rambo. Because they have met the SFWA minimum requirements since […]
Well, folks. This is it. The final post in the series. I’m going to finish identifying basic patterns for the resolution phase, summarize what I’ve presented on structure, and wrap the whole series up.
Readers want their tension to build to a pitch. Then they want to feel a release. The resolution phase is where you deliver that delicious release.
The stories that use insight and decision are usually those where the main obstacle is the character’s internal problem. For example, in stories where love and friendship is on the line and the obstacle is the main character’s values, it may be that the hero has to make a decision to place love above something else.
Just as I need to know my hero’s goal, motives, and plan, I also need to know the same things about my antagonist. In fact, in some stories the antagonist’s plans are what drive the story.
Taking the readers to the point where it seems their worst fears will be realized and then turning it around only makes the victory sweeter. Giving the reader great hope, just before everything falls apart, makes the loss feel so much more terrible.
What you need to do is keep throwing troubles, conflicts, surprises, and obstacles at the reader. You also need to let the hero have some successes. This allows the reader to have cause to fear AND hope, and to not know for sure how it’s all going to turn out.
You become a writer by writing. You learn by damaging your ego, and giving more of yourself than you take. By a thousand revelations, by millions of words you improve.
If the main character is sympathetic and interesting, the reader will root for her and want to see what happens. If some of the particularities of the character and problem are surprising to the readers, it will generate more interest than if it’s something they’ve seen many times before.