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Dialogue is what your characters say to each other (or to themselves).
The first time I heard him, I stood in the bathroom listening at our shared wall for ten minutes, debating the wisdom of calling the police.
It was very different from living in the duplex over middle-aged Mr. Brown and their two young sons in Duluth.“It is important to understand the basic elements of fiction writing before you consider how to put everything together.
An effective short story (or poem) does not simply record or express the author’s feelings; rather, it generates feelings in the reader.
(See “Show, Don’t (Just) Tell.”)Drawing on your own real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, are attractive choices for students who are looking for a “personal essay” topic.
A short story conserves characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict, and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation.
Go easy on the exposition and talky backstory — your reader doesn’t need to know everything that you know about your characters.Suppose you have a protagonist whose husband comes home one day and says he doesn’t love her any more and he is leaving.What are actions that can result from this situation?Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value–that will, in Chekhov’s words, “make [man] see what he is like.” –In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story. She is a fair-skinned Norwegian with blue eyes, long, curly red hair, and is 5 feet 6 inches tall.Here is a partial list of character details to help you get started. Contrary to the stereotype about redheads, she is actually easygoing and rather shy.So close your eyes and picture your characters within desert, jungle, or suburb–whichever setting shaped them.Imagining this helps balance location and characterization.But simply listing the emotions you experienced (“It was exciting” “I’ve never been so scared in all my life” “I miss her so much”) is not the same thing as generating emotions for your readers to experience. Read Raymond Carver, Earnest Hemingway, Alice Munro, and Tobias Wolff.For those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies, here are some additional ideas. If you don’t have time to read all of these authors, stick to Chekhov.“We are already maxed out on our credit cards.”The second example is mechanically correct, since it uses a separate paragraph to present each speaker’s turn advancing the conversation.But the narrative material between the direct quotes is mostly useless.