Sunday, January 9, 2022

 Short story completed!

I say completed, but I've already got some tweaks in mind--move part of a paragraph, smooth a description, add a couple words of meaningful detail. The usual stuff.

Every story is a portal to another world. They don't all lead to Mayberry and Joan Collins, but penetrating that threshold--letting your eyes trace that first line of words--threatens to transport you to another place, another time, another you. Complete the leap, drop into the story, and you may never escape. Some stories remain a part of you forever once you've embraced the trauma, the drama, and the dream.

What are the trauma, the drama, and the dream? Those are my broad terms for the elements required to make the reader love a story. Other writers may call them by different names, but I submit that my terms as expressed at the end of the paragraph above score points for being the most poetic. Aren't great stories poetic at some level? Yes. The answer is yes. They don't have to rhyme or match a certain meter, but they should have an aesthetic or emotional impact.

Let me expound. The character(s) must experience trauma or distress. Something about the situation, setting, or other players upon the stage must cause or threaten injury. The character(s) must face peril. That peril may be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc., depending upon the genre of the story.

A great story requires drama, or conflict. The character must have obstacles to overcome, villains to defeat, disadvantages to heighten the difficulty, and mysteries or problems to solve. The trauma and the drama mesh to create tension and build the reader's interest in the characters. When these are combined correctly, the reader will buy-in and immerse themselves in the story. The reader becomes emotionally invested.

When emotional investment has been achieved, the dream materializes. The dream exists in the reader's imagination, and will differ with every reader. Nevertheless, the way the writer manipulates and resolves the trauma and the drama controls the dream. A dream may be created, only to be destroyed by the writer's departure from or too strict adherence to the genre tropes, or by the writer's mishandling of the story or by poor stylistic choices. The aesthetic or emotional impact, and delivery of the elements determine the power of the dream and whether it lingers with the reader long after the story has ended.

I hadn't intended to touch on the secrets of a great story, but once I brought it up, I felt that I had to give a brief explanation. Each element deserves its own essay, or chapter, but that's not what I do here. What it is exactly that I do here has yet to be determined, but the consensus indicates that it isn't formulating an exegesis on the elements of writing.


The little Wheels where here for dinner this evening. I broke in the new cribbage board by leading most of the way, only to fall behind on the last bend, and pull out a come-from-behind surprise win in a very tight game.

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