Monday, 23 March 2009

Teddy Bears in Picnic Debacle

I'm not reading enough short stories. Does that matter? Yes. It matters because the pieces I am reading profess to be short stories and they're not. They are just short pieces of writing.
Imagine reading a bed time story that went: if you go down to the woods today...and that was it. Well, I have seen some very nice descriptions of visits to woods, other countries, the shops, the beach etc. but that's not a story. If you went on, you're sure of a big surprise...then you're sure as hell going to have to tell me what it is, otherwise I will sit up in bed, demand my surprise and definitely not go to sleep. Hopefully, I will find the idea of a picnic for teddy bears endearing and be drawn in by the unexpected notion, thrilled by the little bears gallivanting and then pleased that they aren't left to themselves, but are taken home to bed by their mummies and daddies. 
There is a wholeness to the Teddy Bears' Picnic. Unlike many of the ones I am reading. A short story isn't an account, a rant, a character sketch, a memoir, a back story or chapter 1 (1st draft) of a novel. It will have a purpose, it will hook me in straight away, engage me in the middle and leave me satisfied in the end. So that's beginning, middle and end. Oh, and by the way, keep the repetition down to a minimum. Don't use your last paragraph telling me everything that you have already shown me during the story. Also, don't use your last para...

p.s. Remember though, what actually sorts the Bears from the Barbies is the nature of the telling. I might well blog about that next.


7 comments:

  1. I'm not a writer but as a reader I always think that short stories must be extremely hard to write. They really have to try hard so they stick in your mind from just so few words. I'm often taken with the short stories read on Radio 4, I can think of two in the past few months that I couldn't get out of my head - one funny and smart and the other so sad. Liked Guy De Maupassant short stories too when doing French at school but they may not be so great reading them now, maybe? There's enough of them!

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  2. I think of a good short story as a little jewel, christine, It will have been cut at certain angles and highly polished, even if in certain lights it might not appear so.

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  3. Good thought. I just found who wrote that deliciously funny story read on Radio 4 a while back. It was called Hwang and was from a book of short stories by Carys Davies called Some New Ambush.

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  4. I shall look that up, Christine. Thanks. Have you read any of Alice Munro's stories? I really like them.

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  5. No I've not but shall bear her in mind. Also onn topic, I picked up Suzanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu: and Other Stories in a charity shop yesterday. Have you read that?

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  6. Yes, I have got the Ladies of Grace Adieu. I liked a lot of the stories, some I wonder, might have been edited out of JS &MrN.

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  7. waste not, want not ;)

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