Guest Post

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Sunday, July 3, 2022

A day to celebrate

cj Sez:  Happy 246 th birthday to the U.S.A.!

God Bless the U.S.A.

 Lee Greenwood 


Tidbits for Readers and Writers

  So, how much do you know about July 4, our Independence Day?

  Did you know that the Declaration of Independence, which July 4 celebrates, was officially and unanimously adopted by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776?

  Did you know that John Adams lobbied for July 2 as the day to celebrate?

  Did you know that we celebrate with fireworks because of John Adams? He is quoted as saying: “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward.”
  Did you know that it wasn’t until 1870 that July 4 became a national holiday?

  Did you know that unheralded August 2, 1776, is the official date that 56 members of the Second Continental Congress started signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia?

... Well, if you didn't know all of that, now you do.

  In last week’s post lauding THE BIG FANG charity anthology (filled with 22 short and endearing stories, one of which is my “Firebug”), I promised to do a post on the steps I follow when I write a short story. This is from my archives and still works for me today:   

  The first thing I do is put a copy of Anne Lamott’s ABCDE structure of a short story within eyesight. 

Action—Start with something happening to draw the reader into the story. 

Background—Provide context for readers to understand how the characters came to the current situation

Conflict—The characters must want something they don’t have and work to achieve it (sometimes against each other)

Development—The 70-80 percent of the story describing the characters’ struggles to get what they want. Each time it appears they have the goal within reach, give them something more difficult to overcome until they reach the climax  
(cj Sez: That’s the part where you get them up a tree and throw rocks at them.)

Ending—What happens after they reach their goal. In a romance, the hero and heroine realize their “happily-ever-after”. In a mystery or thriller, all the loose ends are tied up. In a literary story, the ending may be rather ambiguous.


  I merge Ms. Lamott’s guidelines with writing tidbits I’ve cobbled together from how-to workshops and essays. This is what I’ve learned, a lot of which applies to novels as well:

  Short stories are about one thing, so start the story as close to the central action as possible—I find that to be close to the end.

  Write to let the setting help reveal the character and advance the plot. This is where a deep point of view can reveal internal character through reactions to richly detailed settings.
  In a short story, every line should (more probably must) serve more than one purpose.
  Every character needs to want something, even if it’s only to be left alone so s/he can take a nap.

  Make the reader care about your main character. Snappy dialogue, beautiful settings, or surprising plot twists won’t keep your readers turning the pages if your main character is boring or unlikable. They need someone to root for.

  That being said, all great characters have flaws—something that readers recognize or sympathize with. You don’t have space in a short story for paragraph-long character descriptions. This is where less is more, necessarily. One significant detail can tweak the imagination, and a complete character is formed in the reader’s mind. This is the character that can lead the reader to an unexpected twist ending, perhaps best exemplified by the master of twisted endings, William Sydney Porter (O. Henry).

 A story with a moral appended is like the bill of a mosquito. It bores you, and then injects a stinging drop to irritate your conscience.Strictly Business by O. Henry


Coming Attractions

  Mark your calendars.  National best-selling and Agatha-nominated mystery author Kaye George is scheduled to be
Lyrical Pens’ guest on July 20.  

  Her latest book, DEATH IN THE NEW LAND (A People of the Wind Mystery Book 3), releases July 19 and is available for pre-order.


  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. (I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend…sending up prayers for your health and safety.)
  Just in time for your summer reading pleasure . . . fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond). The ebooks of DEATH ON THE YAMPA and THE DAWGSTAR are now $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:  
P.P.S. Pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not available at The Haunted Bookshop
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