If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.













April Interview Schedule:
4/3 Connie Berry
4/10 Malice Domestic Anthology 14 Authors
4/17 David Burnsworth
3/24 Grace Topping

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 4/6 Edith Maxwell, 4/13 Ellen Butler

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 4/20 Margaret S. Hamilton, 4/27 Kait Carson

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Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Congratulations to Shari Randall for her nomination for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interviewabout the book here. Yay, Shari!

The Malice Domestic conference participants have nominated Annette Dashofy for an Agatha Award for her Zoe Chambers mystery Cry Wolf, published in 2018 by Henery Press. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Annette about Cry Wolf here. Will four nominations be the charm?

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: http://a.co/d/jdSBKdM

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder, which will be released April 30, is available for pre-order.

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, was published February 26, 2019. Available for sale.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

What is a Story? by Warren Bull

What is a Story?




Image from Dmitry Ratushny at http://Upsplash.com

Sometimes people think a bunch of words on a page related to one idea or character is a story. It might be or it might not. As a recovering editor and writing contest judge, I have read conglomerations of words that had action, focus and grammatically competent sentences that did not rise to the level of "storyhood." 
I remember a compilation of words that started with an explosion, the protagonist and his group had a shoot-out with police, then the protagonist was told to assassinate a wounded friend so the police could not question her, he refused and, finally, escaped through the chaos of the ongoing battle. That was pretty much the sequence of events that didn’t add up to an actual a plot. Although it may not sound like it, reading this particular set of words was boring. I finished feeling like I had just wasted time that could have been better spent staring out the window or cutting my toenails.
In another orderly and grammatical collection of words, a human confronted a polar bear on an iceberg. I truly don’t remember the outcome of the encounter, but I’m pretty sure I rooted for the bear,  hoping something of interest might happen. It did not.
Stories, you see, have a structure. I remember Stephen King once commented that he had an idea but it did have enough moving parts to make a story. A story has to have an arc, that is a beginning, a middle and an end. You can start anywhere along the arc. Stories that go A to B to C are the most likely to bore the reader, but other structures require the more writing dexterity. And beyond the structure, stories need some point, some reason for their existence.  At the end of the reading experience, the reader should laugh, cry or sigh.
Yes, readers should read your work because you are a person of absolute brilliance, a tremendous boon to the galaxy and sexy as all hell. However, since none of that matters to someone alone wondering if a nap would be more attractive than reading on a rainy Saturday afternoon, give your reader a reason to start and to continue reading.
How long should a story be? As long as it needs to be; not one word more. 
One of my favorite short stories came in the form of a poem by a sixth-grade girl.
The Bubble 
It is.
It was.
I can imagine the entire series of events without a needless explanatory backstory. And the ending really pops.


7 comments:

Annette said...

Fabulous post, Warren. I'm putting together a workshop for this fall on reasons why our completed manuscripts keep getting rejected, and I may quote from this piece if you don't mind. With credit given, of course!

KM Rockwood said...

Interesting. Sometimes I enjoy reading (or writing) vignettes, but they certainly don't rise to the definition of "story."

Margaret Turkevich said...

I'm wrestling a short story into shape right now. I have great action scenes and an exciting method of killing someone, but no killer's motivation.

Have you ever watched the TV series "Fortitude"? It's set north of the Arctic Circle and has a plot bordering on science fiction (but it's credible) and lots of polar bears.

Anonymous said...

and the ending really pops. LOLOLOLOL

Liz Milliron said...

Great post, Warren. I've read books that are nothing more than a loosely connected series of events. Very unfulfilling.

Kait said...

This is delightful, Warren - love the story poem, too. That's a child with a bright future.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Warren,

I agree--stories need structure. Without it, the work disappoints.