The Art of the Short Story

11개월 전

How It All Began For Me

Up until 2006 I hadn’t written a short story since my college days more than a decade earlier. All that changed when I was lucky enough to take part in a short story course taught by C. Michael Curtis of The Atlantic Magazine. I learned so much from that course, which comprised of a refresher of the basics and then drafting our own short story, which was critiqued by other classmates and then by the master himself.

In the end of this six week course, I had my very first short story titled, The American Dream which I published here on Steemit in installments nearly three years ago (Pt 1., Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4.) Those old days of Steemit were amazing, reading these old posts brings me right back to the excitement of those days.

C. Michael Curtis’ course stretched my idea muscles and although this first story wasn’t what I would call my best work it was a satisfying piece of storytelling and it paved the way to everything I’ve written from that point forward. After I wrote The American Dream I was on such a high from the process of writing it I submitted it to The New Yorker magazine for publication.

After I got their very polite rejection six weeks later it put an end to my naive euphoria and I discovered I, indeed, had much more to learn. Like so much in life, expectations so often differ from reality.

The Perfect Genre


For me, there’s no better genre for a beginning writer to practice than the short story. Reason being, if you can master the art of storytelling in the 1,500-to-30,000 word range that the short story genre encompasses, you have the chops to write a novel.

Beware, it’s not as simple as it seems and it's easy to get cocky after you get some glowing feedback on your work. If you want to read a master check out some of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories. Some would argue he’s not the best but his work is always the bar that I’ve tried to reach, his words are so simple and ring true.

The great thing about the short story is it doesn’t take months of your life to produce so there’s a certain sense of satisfaction there. It allows you to practice, to learn, and to refine.

If there’s any piece of advice I could give to new authors is first drafts are usually far from final drafts. Set aside time to let the story to linger after you’ve written the first draft then revisit it a few days later. Also, have a trusted inner circle of beta readers who can give you good, honest feedback on your drafts.

What Keeps Me Going

Over the course of the past few years I’ve written a few short stories, some of which I’ve published and some that have never seen the light of day. When I’m at the gym with my headphones on I’m never listening to music, I’m usually devouring a new story on The New Yorker Fiction podcast.

Over the years this podcast has been like my masterclass for short stories. When I worked a day job I'd listen to an episode on my lunch hour. Host Debra Treisman invites established authors on the podcast to read short stories from other famous authors. Afterwards Debra and her guests dissect and discuss the story that was just read. I can’t even express how much I enjoy this and how much I’ve learned from it. Each episode is like a writing course and a wonderful adventure rolled into one.

Steem Fiction

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited by @jeezzle to write a short story for @steemfiction. Sadly, I was a slacker and didn’t meet the deadline but many other talented writers did and the end result was a wonderful collection of short stories published on Amazon called, Voices in the Darkness: Tales from the Steem Blockchain (Steem Fiction). I encourage you to support their effort by following @steemfiction, picking up a copy, and writing an Amazon review. This project is amazing publicity for our platform and the Steemit Community as a whole.

As a result of @jeezzle’s prompt (thank you again) I did end up with the framework of a short story that I’m pretty proud of called, Missing Time. After a few more edits and rewrites I’ll be publishing it here on Steemit and submitting it to The New Yorker magazine. Maybe I’ll get lucky this time? If I do, you’ll be the first to learn. Well, maybe the second, my wife will be the first to hear me scream.

Being a writer is both the best profession and the worst profession all rolled into one. It has a lot in common with being a crypto trader because it sends you on a constant roller coaster of emotion and you need to continually find your balancing point.

Being a writer is fraught with dizzying highs and nauseating lows, struggles, rejection, inner demons, and tons of work that goes unseen. I respect anyone who attempts it. All of us are a band of brothers and sisters on an endless quest to learn from one another, polish our skills, and hopefully entertain readers in the process.

Thank you for reading,

Eric

(Gifs sourced from Giphy.com)


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*I am an American novelist, poet, traveler, and crypto-enthusiast. If you’ve enjoyed my work please sign up for my author newsletter at my website. Newsletter subscribers will receive exclusive updates and special offers and your information will never be sold or shared.

Alarm Clock Dawn, one of the first full length novels published on the blockchain, and the book that started it all for me can be found HERE. Or Click Here to read it for free on the Steemit blockchain

My book on meditation, The Perfect Pause, is priced at $12.99 (paperback) and $4.99 (eBook). Buy the paperback and receive the eBook for free!

Let’s Keep In Touch

www.ericvancewalton.net

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You have a very extraordinary experience in writing short stories, Eric. I think your work must be very good. Unfortunately I have never read your short story. I am constrained by language because I am not good at speaking English, so I do not like to read short stories in English. I hope that one day your short story will be translated into my language, Indonesia. Success for you, Eric.

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Thank you! I'm still a work in progress. I have a lot left to learn but that's the fun part of being a writer, it's a path of lifelong learning. Your English seems pretty good! I think you can use Google translate to translate any text from English to Indonesian. I appreciate your comment!

Okay, I just spent about five minutes watching that gif of Hemingway having a drink. It is, beyond a doubt, the coolest thing I've seen all year :)) I love Hemingway (I think it's a very good bar to set yourself, honestly), even though many say he's too simple, too direct. To me, that's exactly the point. If he can write things so directly and still come out with a great story, then you know he's a good fucking writer.

So, thank you for that :)) Interesting read, I'm glad you found your way towards writing again. I've never been on such a course, mainly because all the ones I've seen advertised around here sound like a pretentious money-grab.

I agree with everything you're written here, particularly the part about short stories giving more immediate satisfaction. I definitely know that feeling...and the feeling of getting lost in a seemingly endless novel and how depressing that ca be, though also rewarding if you do finish it. It's a complex job, huh?

I'm happy you're happy with that story and I really do wish you the best of luck with The New York Times <3 Thank you for sharing all this!

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That gif is strangely mesmerizing isn't it? It kind of feels like you're there having a drink with him. Writing a novel is a true commitment, not to mention grueling but I would definitely encourage every writer to try it at least once. Psychological boot camp is the best way I know to describe it. The NANOWRIMO model is the best way I've found to getting to a first draft. I'll be happy if I can write anything even as remotely good as Hemingway. : ) Thank you, @honeydue, for your comment and ongoing support!

I did end up with the framework of a short story that I’m pretty proud of called, Missing Time. After a few more edits and rewrites I’ll be publishing it here on Steemit and submitting it to The New Yorker magazine. Maybe I’ll get lucky this time?

I am sure you'll be published this time Eric. You got the talent and the skillz...

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Thanks for your vote of confidence...it's much appreciated!

Looking forward to read your story... and good luck!

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I suppose many of the lessons one would learn might also help in some degree when trying to compose a post or create a video for Steemit. I appreciate the advice you shared.

Very cool that @steemfiction's challenge was an effective inspiration for you to write a short story, I like hearing that this kind of percolating energy is still popping in these quieter days on the platform!

And, all my fingers and toes are crossed for the New Yorker to pick up your story....that would be AMAZING!

Thanks for the tip on the podcast, I just subscribed and am pretty sure I'll be an addict in no time, I love this.

Indeed the work and commitment to write well is extraordinary and very few get there. I've stumbled very clumsily through just trying to put together coherent posts here, and have more respect than ever for writers who's words sing.

I'm a big fan of Hemmingway's minimalist writing style too - it's potent. I recently reread A Moveable Feast and liked it even better than the first time.

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It was such a good motivator! The entire project reminds me of the Steemit of 2016, such great energy.

Thank you so much, Ruth! I'm sending it off with zero expectations this time. I've decided if they like it, they like it. If not, I'll try again. It would be pretty amazing to be accepted. : )

WARNING: the podcast is addictive ( : ) ). They run about an hour an episode and I do 20min on the elliptical machine every day so I have to break them up in chunks of 2 or 3 days. If it's a good story I can't wait to get back to it.

You write really well, Ruth. Your posts always have a have a great and consistent voice. The more I write the more I strive for simplicity. When I was younger I thought the more complex the language the better but it was only to try to impress the reader. I don't do that anymore.

I should read A Moveable Feast again!

Good luck this time around with the New Yorker! Writing really becomes an obsession, well for me even though mine is weaved around food, it's just so addictive! I was the same, had not written since high school days when I did enjoy writing essays but Steemit became the outlet for that forgotten pleasure!
I've tried to write a review on Amazon for your book The Perfect Pause, but it looks like they only accept reviews from those who bought the book through them as I could not do it even though I'm registered on the site!
Great advice here @ericvancewalton, I tend to be way too impatient and impulsive so find myself editing and re-editing posts!

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Thank you @lizelle! Writing does become an obsession because there's never a point when you can stop developing. I love that Steemit provides a kind of daily prompt for creating new things with the added benefit of reader interaction and feedback. This platform has made me better in almost every way.

Thanks for trying to do a review! I forgot about that rule with Amazon. I've noticed lately a lot of authors will list their book for free for a week so people can "buy" it and then write a review before they do a proper launch. I'll do that for my next book. I'm not sure if it'll be the sequel to Alarm Clock Dawn or a follow-up to The Perfect Pause.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Excellent review, Eric and you are right, the art of the writer is a very interesting thing and always pleases when a thread of understanding arises between the author and the reader!

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I'm more of the poetry guy rather than short stories really so that's why I didn't dive into that one, and I didn't check the details, however I'll like to see work after the edits you're planning and obviously you don't dissapoint, so it'll be awesome

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Thanks @josediccus! I enjoy writing poetry but the storytelling aspect of short stories is a little more addictive for me. It's so much fun to create the characters and the world in which they live.

Nice one. This also made me to remember when i usually write short stories some years ago. Probably i have left it a long time ago maybe due to lack of interest in it again or lost of inspiration but i really missed those times when i will take my pen and book and out of inspiration begins to write short stories

Short stories are very easy to write and and they are very good for the readers because they consume very less time.

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I wish short stories were easy for me to write but they actually take a lot of work. It's very rewarding though.

@ericvancewalton, Great to know about your Short Story Journey and hope that you will come up with more and you hold more exciting writing journey ahead. No matter how many criticism we face, if our Intuition says that it's the right path and thing then in my opinion we should listen it. Stay blessed.

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Short story is really for beginning to start with, before proceeding to writing novel. Nice tips, I find it incredibly.

Very twisted reality

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The best of success to you with your new short story, "Missing Time", @ericvancewalton. The title is enticing as there are so many ways to go.

It is good to see you promote @steemfiction. What a wonderful venue for writers in Steemit.

I can only say that what you have made is really very beautiful