Plotting the Short Story
Publisher: Midwest Journal Press
How Successful Authors Write Short Stories: Learning the Plot
Most beginners seem to have the idea that the
writing game is a very easy game to play, as easy as ping-pong, for
A few of them have acquired a fair education; others, not
so fortunate, are equipped with nothing but a gnawing desire to
write, and on first appearances it seems to them that it should prove
to be a very simple matter to weave their ideas into readable
Some of them have a vague idea of what a plot is, but they
know-nothing about BALANCE, INCITING MOTIVES, CRUCIAL SITUATIONS,
CLIMAXES, etc., and care less.
When they read in their favorite
magazine a cameo-like story by some master writer, they do not
realize that the author may have labored for days over that story,
rearranging words, eliminating paragraphs and even whole pages from
the original draft, and reconstructing the plot after he has torn it
to pieces half-a-dozen times.
The words flow so smoothly, the
characters stand out so clearly, the plot is so simple — how easy
it must be! But these writers are soon disillusioned when the
rejection slips begin to roll in on them with the regularity of
Not until they have served a long
apprenticeship do they learn that authorship is as much of a
profession as surgery is and that, as in all other pursuits, it is
simply a matter of the survival of the fittest.
No writer can hope to achieve real success in the
writing field unless he is well-grounded in the fundamentals of plot
construction, nor can he avoid an atmosphere of SAMENESS in his
stories and give them the stamp of cleverness and originality unless
he constantly adds to his store of plot material.
the thing," and the writer who relies solely upon inspiration to
furnish him with suitable plots for his stories cannot begin to
compete with his more practical brother craftsman who stimulates his
imagination with tid-bits from real life, as it were, and builds the
foundations for his stories with the same care and exactitude that a
stone mason would employ in building the foundation and framework of
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