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


May Interviews

5/5 Lynn Calhoon, Murder 101
5/12 Annette Dashofy, Death By Equine
5/19 Krista Davis, The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit
5/25 Debra Goldstein, Four Cuts Too Many

Saturday WWK Bloggers

5/1 V. M. Burns
5/8 Jennifer Chow
5/22 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

5/15 M. K. Scott













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E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!

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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 S. Hamilton 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.