Good morning everyone! And Happy Labor Day to all our USA readers! We have author Lisa Kessler with us today and she's given us a very interesting article. I think you'll enjoy it :-)
Thank you Lynda for inviting me here today!
I’ve always been a sucker for a really good short story, the ones that stick with you long after you reached “The End”. I remember reading “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell in high school, and I wanted to write like that.
Later I discovered Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, also masters of the art of short fiction. In a few sentences you’re transported to another world, and already vested in the characters. You need to know what happens next.
I was lucky enough to meet Ray Bradbury after one of his lectures about writing, and I asked him for advice on improving my craft. His eyes sparkled and he replied, “Write a new short story every week for a year. At the end of the year, you’ll have ideas to last a lifetime.”
I’ll be honest here. It took me almost two years to take his advice.
Call me hard-headed, but I had sold short stories in the past. I knew you didn’t get much money, and at that point in time it took me a few weeks to write one story. It was tough for me to imagine that short stories would help me with my paranormal romance novels.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I finally committed to take Ray Bradbury’s advice, I started my blog and posted a new short story every week. I learned about story arcs, crafting a tight beginning, keeping tension in the middle, and finding a satisfying ending.
There is no room for backstory in short fiction. The beginning hits the ground running. Every word counts. Through writing short fiction, you learn faster ways to research and edit, until your writing process itself is also streamlined. Instead of taking a couple weeks to craft a new short story, I could finish it in a day.
Flash Fiction is also an excellent exercise. Using the topic of “Murder in 250 words or less” I crafted micro fiction that forces you to make each word meaningful. Powerful, vivid verbs are a necessity, and another useful tool to add to a novelist’s toolkit.
During my 52 stories in 52 week journey, one tale demanded more attention. I wrote “Moonlight” as a short story for my blog initially. Shortly afterward, my local RWA Chapter challenged us to write a novel in nine months, so I took the short story and ran with it.
It was just announced this past week that “Moonlight” is a finalist in the Kensington Brava/RT Writing with the Stars contest!
So in the end, Ray Bradbury was right. In fact, I loved writing 52 stories in 52 weeks so much that I still try to post a new short fiction on my blog each week. We all read books on the craft and go to workshops, but writing short fiction gives you hands-on practice and like any art, you learn by using the techniques not just talking about them.
If you’ve never finished a novel, or if you’ve been toiling over edits and rewrites on the same book, short fiction might be just the thing to get you to the next level. And who knows, your next great novel might come from one of your short stories.
Bio: Lisa Kessler writes dark paranormal fiction novels and short stories. Her vampire short story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award. Immortal Beloved can be found in the Dead Souls anthology from Morrigan Books.
Lisa is an active member of her local RWA chapter as well as the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal online chapter. Her novels have been finalists in the Winter Rose, On the Far Side, Spring into Romance, and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence.
Her novel Moonlight is currently a finalist in the Brava/RT Writing with the Stars contest.
When she’s not writing, Lisa sings in musical theater productions and operas. She lives in San Diego with her wonderful husband who reads every word she writes, and two amazing teens.
Print - http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Souls-2-Ramsey-Campbell/dp/9197760587/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283726776&sr=1-1
Lisa’s Blog – http://blogs.myspace.com/Lisas_Lair
Lisa’s Websites – http://LisasLair.com , http://myspace.com/Lisas_Lair
Lisa’s Facebook – http://facebook.com/LisaKesslerWriter
Lisa’s Twitter – http://twitter.com/LdyDisney
Lisa on Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/lisakessler