The other news I wanted to share is I have a shop at Society6. If you’re looking for unique gift ideas, I just might have something to fill that need. Or, if you’d just like to see some of my photography you can do that, too. https://society6.com/tambranicole
When I began writing I started out with articles and studying children’s literature. Gaining a bit of confidence, I submitted one of my articles to a local writing group’s contest. It was the first time I’d entered my writing in a contest before and I was nervous.
I won third place! One of judges contacted me about publishing my article in his magazine. He was active in Toastmasters International and he had a dynamic presence. A few years later I joined Toastmasters International and it gave me the confidence to speak to an audience about writing and teaching. What does this have to do with writing short stories, you’re asking. Well, writing a speech uses the same skills. You need to be focused, making every word count, have a beginning, middle and end, leading to a satisfying conclusion.
On my bookshelves I have several writing craft books by Jack M. Bickham, a former Creative Writing Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Bickham was a protégé of the late Dwight Swain.
Much of the information in Bickhams books still apply today. Years ago, I had the honour of meeting him. He was a gracious and gentle man. If there had been a way for me to take his university courses I would have jumped at the chance. Jack Bickham wrote over eighty novels, and three books for Writer’s Digest Books. Mr. Bickham also wrote The Apple Dumpling Gang which was made into a movie in the 1970s-early 1980s, I think.
Study the masters of short story writing. What story situations do they tackle? How do they create characters you relate to?
Here’s what I’ve learned writing short stories and information from Mr. Bickham. I hope this will give you a place to start. Learning to write short can be a fun challenge.
Tambra’s Short Story Tips
Write out what you know about the characters and the story you want to tell. Go through it and edit out the parts that don’t push the story forward. In short stories you usually find two to three characters because you don’t have the room for more.
Remember this is a short story. Traditional short story word lengths run from 1,500 (six pages) to 5,000 words (roughly 20 double spaced pages.)
Six pages is going to call for some concentrated, concise writing. Twenty pages still means you need a narrow focus and must making every word count. Some people find writing short easier than writing long. This will take some practice but don’t forget to have fun. I believe writing should be fun and exciting.
When writing a novel, you have the luxury of delving deeper into the GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) of your main characters and villain, a complex plot with room for a bit of backstory. Flashbacks and backstory slow the pace of your story which is why they must be trickled in. If you’re unfamiliar with GMC I highly recommend Debra Dixon’s book, GMC. I can’t tell you how much it helped me. From her I learned to love plotting.
Drop your character into trouble as soon as you can. But make sure the situation can be resolved in a satisfying manner in allotted number of pages you have available. Rushing the ending will make the reader feel cheated and dissatisfied.
Remember you don’t have time for long passages of backstory so a few sentences to let the reader know. Example: Gina and Dee Dee met at college and Gina invites Dee Dee over for supper and a study session.
Gina opened the door holding her new puppy. “Come on in!”
Dee Dee white knuckle gripped her tote bag and licked her lips. “Can’t. Dog.” Her brain and body were frozen.
Gina frowned and walked back. “A bad experience with dogs?”
Dee Dee nodded.
“She’s asleep. Can you hear her snoring?”
Dee Dee stepped inside and closed the door. “A neighbor’s Chow Chow jumped the fence and bit me.I was three years old. I’ve been scared of dogs no matter the size since then.” She swallowed. “I have wanted to pet a puppy. It would nice to at least be able to do that.”
Gina sat on the sofa and Dee Dee followed. “If you want you try softly petting her with your index finger on her head.”
Slowly Dee Dee reached out and stroked the Westie’s head. Her fur was so soft! The knots in her chest and stomach loosened making it easier to breathe. She did it. She actually pet a dog.
In the example I didn’t do a long flashback on Dee Dee’s situation that led to her getting bit. The readers need to care about the characters. Everyone has been scared, so we understand how hard this must have been for Dee Dee.
Your plot will probably be on specific event that can be handled within the limits of the genre. Give just enough information about the setting so the reader isn’t confused.
The other elements of fiction writing apply. Adding in the senses, enough description so the reader is transported and can visualize it. Check the flow and pace of your story.
Every word, every sentence counts. Readers emotions, their hearts, must be pulled in and engaged in the story you are telling. Writing short will serve you well if you write longer pieces of fiction. Writing short it forces you to write tighter and more concise. You’ll find yourself getting to the heart of a scene much quicker.
I’ve never regretted started out writing short pieces of fiction and nonfiction.
I hope this post helps you understand the basics of writing short stories. It’s really fun! I hope you give it a try. You might like it.
I hope you and your families are doing well. There are so many changes to adapt to it can be overwhelming. Stress levels are up for a multitude of reasons. My wish is that you find something of use in this blog post.
If you’ve always wanted to write books but keep putting it off, do it. Start with a short story. Find a group of writers. Want to write fiction and nonfiction? Lots of us do! I have a teatime cookbook and a journal both available on Amazon. Or, you might be interested in nonfiction such as memoirs. I have a friend, Joan Neubauer, who’s written a great book on this topic. You can find her book here: From Memories to Manuscript: the Five Step Method of Writing Your Life Story
The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes
I create stories to entertain people, an opportunity to be transported to another place, or assist someone by looking at something in a way that gives them greater understanding, For my visual art, my goal is to bring beauty to the person looking through my portfolio.
Tambra’s Watercolour and Gouache tribute to Claude Monet
Having delicate health means every single day is a precious gift. I focus on what I can I do today: finish edits on my novella, tweak that short story for middle graders, try to sketch and paint a mermaid in ProCreate. From the time I was twelve years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer and artist. Of course, these are not optimum conditions, but my drive to continually be creative is an integral part of me. Not being able to create makes me physically sicker.
I challenge you left-brainers out there to be creative (in a positive way, please.) Colouring is a stress reducer. Cooking can be creative, building something from wood, woodburning, soap making, sewing, gardening, learn to play a musical instrument, recycling/upcycling items. If being creative is new to you don’t automatically say what you’ve done is a piece of crap. A new skill takes time to learn so give yourself a break and have fun.
Make the most of the time you have right now. What can you learn, create, and share with others? I believe I was given the gift of storytelling and writing as well as art. Not everyone will like my writing and art, but some will. Being creative reduces stress and stimulates areas of your brain that will help you think of out-of-the-box solutions in your life.
Smudge Alpin MacRuff
I hope you find a creative activity is fun, that you can share with family and friends.
Maybe we can take away something positive from 2020. A deeper understanding of how precious life is and how to make the most of it. Smudge Alpin MacRuff wants you to be kind and love one another.
This blog post is aimed at writers. My goal for this article is to make writers aware of a topic that concerns anyone who is working in the area of the arts. The slant of this post leans toward writers who plan to submit their work to a publisher and the fear of rejection.
So, you want to be a writer but you’re afraid. I understand why you’re afraid. Your words, your heart, have bled onto the page and now you feel naked, raw, and uncomfortable. This is the sacrifice we make to touch the soul of the reader. If you haven’t noticed, fear of rejection and guilt are the mud puddles writers wallow in often.
When I meet people and they’ve asked what I do, many have flippantly said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t have the time. You don’t work, why don’t you write it for me?” The arrogance of this attitude astounded me.
People, this is NOT a compliment. Unless this is a person who has had something extraordinary happen in their lives and you’re a ghost writer searching for an interesting story this attitude is rude as hell.
That person is telling you that their time is more valuable than yours and that isn’t true. It’s insulting. I nicely but firmly, tell those people I have enough projects of my own. Since it’s their story, they need to write it using their description and words. People can be lazy control freaks, don’t let them bully you.
LabraThor is here to beat back fear, rejection, and guilt.
Attitudes in American society have conditioned people to view the arts in a negative manner. This spills down into families affecting the writer on a personal level.
Some people are afraid to let anyone know they’re creative. The attitudes and conditioning of American society. places importance on sports and science. The arts is given the middle finger and this point of view is handed down from generation to generation. The situation could prove too stressful and the writer has hidden behind fear. American society needs to stop treating artists and creatives like we’re leftover puppy kibble. You are not less as a person because you’re creative. What you create has value.
Just before I graduated from high school, I wanted to attend The Art Institute of Houston and take their advertising courses. When I told my Dad about the school he was furious and adamant that I continue learning secretarial skills because that’s what he decided I should do. I had no way to get to AI of Houston since the car I was driving was his and if I had found to attend, he would have thrown me out of the house. Had he kicked me out I would never have been able to return. I tried to figure out a way to be able to go but there were no options.
Still, I continued to sketch and searched for a way to make my dreams come true of being an author and illustrator. After I married and had kids, I found a local writing group and took art lessons from an amazing Houston area artist, Dana Schoppa. She was the only supporter of my art and I will always treasure my friendship with her. I was afraid of so much back then, but Dana gave me courage and I learned from her that it isn’t the end of the world if you make a mistake. I will always be grateful to her and the blessing she is in my life.
Writing, fine art, illustrating, sewing, pottery etc., is important to society. When there’s a tragedy, writers, artists and art therapists are called upon to help heal the wounds. We are a viable, contributing force to our communities, our nation, the world. Words are powerful.
When I started writing seriously, I had a full-time job, two boys in elementary school and an abusive, alcoholic husband. Not an ideal environment to write in or do much of anything, but somehow, I’ve managed to learn how to write stories that have touched readers and made them happy. I continue to study and learn and probably always will.
Fear ruled me for so many years I refuse to give in and give it anymore of my time. When I find myself falling into its trap, I remind myself of what I’ve accomplished so far because I stopped living in a state of fear.
IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, DO IT. If you submit your story and get rejected either resubmit to another publisher or find out what’s wrong and fix it.
Writing is not for the faint of heart. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. Writing is personal and creative, but it’s also a business for most authors. There are resources to assist a pensmith’s if the business part of writing scares you. Professional organizations are a great place to start gathering information and networking.
There’s nothing stopping a person from writing for themselves or their immediate circle of family and close friends. Everyone has their own focus and interest and none of the choices are wrong. Children’s literature isn’t better than mysteries or romance, its all about your personal interest. Fear has slithered its tentacles into this mindset. Don’t fall for it.
Fear paralyzes and you don’t get anything done. It’s pointing its finger at you and laughing. You fell into its trap.
The fear of rejection can paralyze people. I’ve heard some writers talk about the fear that someone in their family won’t like what they write: they don’t have to read your work and it isn’t their business what you write. People are always trying to make something about themselves when it isn’t about them at all. It all about control. Just like the story I told about my Dad refusing to let me go to art school. That was pure control freak behaviour.
There are a million and one excuses wearing the ever-changing mast of fear waiting to catch you in a weak moment and stop you from the joy of writing. Create a workable, yet, fluid plan. Having a writing road map gives you an idea of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
Being chronically ill I’m home a lot. Doctor visits range from two to four times a month. If I’m feeling good that means I can drive into town to pick up a few things at Walmart or the resale store and then a coffee from Starbucks.
I’m telling you this because I had to change my mindset when I lost my job. Being pissy about my situation wasn’t going to make it better or bring back my health. After dealing with the grief and anger I had to make some changes. I had started writing children’s stories and articles in 1990, so I had a foundation in it when I forced out of my job. It ended up being my saving grace along with having sewing and crafting hobbies. Creativity was and is the key for keeping depression and negativity to the curb (at least most of the time for me). Having hobbies can bring great joy and relieve stress. The writing and the art crafts saved me.
My plans for next few months are to finish final edits on an erotic paranormal novella and publish it. Finish polishing two middle grade short stories that I’ve had sitting in my computer and publish them together so the kids get two funny stories. Then, start plotting a Gothic romance gaslight/steampunk story. I’d like to finish some junk journals and maybe do a bit of sewing. I’ve always wanted to learn more than two stitches in crochet so that’s something to consider. Do I have the energy for all of this? Not all at once, that’s for sure but I look forward to getting up in the morning and writing stories that make people happy. Or teaching my creative writing workshop and helping writers understand aspects of the craft better. I’m thrilled to have assisted so many wonderful people over the years.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book. Now would be a great time to start it. There are novels, short stories, novellas, a collection of short stories with a wide variety of genres to write in: romance, science fiction, fantasy, high fantasy, Western, children’s: picture book, middle grade, young adult, new adult, historical romance, historical fiction, contemporary romance, women’s fiction, literary fiction, mysteries, cozy mysteries, thrillers.
If your child wants to be a writer National Novel Writing Month, nanowrimo.org has a Young Writer’s Program you can check out with your budding novelist. There’s also journaling to express feelings or it can be used as a way organize your life while being creative.
These strange times could be a blessing in some ways. You have the chance to make more memories together with this extra time together. There’s a chance someone may want to learn to cook. There are beginning cookbooks for kids, beginning cooks in general, then there’s specialized categories such as French cooking. Take photos of the meals and add them to a document or blog and track your progress, comments on how it turned out and if you want to change anything for the next time you want to make it. You could also take a blank hardback book and create your own cookbook.
Our Cairn terrier, Smudge keeps us laughing as well as vigilant because he’s a stinker that runs off with things the minute your back is turned. The TV remote, ink pens, paper of any kind can go through the terrier shredder. He loves being outside, is curious, intelligent and loves people from young to old. Pets are a comfort and a blessing and I’m grateful to have my Smudgie. Petting a dog or cat lowers blood pressure.
My husband is doing a few things in the yard while he’s off and playing some video games. We’ve been watching classic Doctor Who on BritBox, Farscape and Highlander, enjoying each other’s company.
Have a romantic dinner with your spouse at home. Remember why you chose each other.
Getting grumpy during these difficult times isn’t going to make things better. That kind of mindset will make you and everyone around you feel worse and that leads to ugly, nasty things none of us want or have time for. We do need to wake up and learn from this pandemic. Each of you know know what that teaching is. We may not be able to go back to our old way of life, we might have to adjust to a new normal. Be grateful you’re still here to have the opportunity for another day, another chance.
I pray all of you are healthy and not getting each other’s nerves too badly. What have you found that helped you and your family during this time of confinement?
Sending this with love and light,
P.S. : You can find my books on Amazon. I believe my teatime cookbook in ebook is free with Kindle Unlimited. I price all my books with people’s budgets in mind so as many people have access to my books as possible.
Ex-stewardess, now USA Today bestselling author of happy ever afters. This is where I chat about my books, writing and the writing life. My love of animals, nature, whimsy and magic, just about anything interesting. Cozy, not glam. Kindness always. If you'd rather look for cool stones than buy shoes, and love the smell of woods after rain, you'll feel at home here. Bonus points for cat lovers. Welcome aboard!