Sunday, February 3, 2013

Short Stories are Hell

I was joking with a writer friend of mine (and there is a distinction between writer friends and other types of friends, trust me) about how the publishing world came up with short stories just to taunt novel writers. The two of us are epic story line people. We think in universes. It makes for interesting conversations.

But short stories aren’t about the universe; they are about moments within that universe. So writing a shorter piece for the Vampires Gone Wild anthology was a serious challenge for me (out Feb 12th- shameless plug, I know). I’m a subscriber to Vogler’s Hero’s Journey, all twelve epic steps of it. I like finding a structure to figure out if I’m torturing the characters enough. I’m dark; we all know this.

The switch I had to flip in my head was that short stories still have that journey, but it is the work of a moment. Its boiling a crisis down to the actual thought the character has that takes them from man to hero, from woman to Amazon. There were SEVERAL guides online about the structure of a short story, so I frankensteined this structure from about three of them.

Setup- who is doing what where
Trigger- what is the choice going to be about
Surprise- hero learn interesting information
Choice- moment of choice
Testing the choice- does the hero doubt?
Resolution- what happens because of the choice

This is not the bible of short story writing, just something that helped me make sure that I was focusing on the choice within the story, the moment of change. With a structure, I could go forth and write about Valiance and Esme and both their choices that changed them.

So I proudly present to you the Setup of my contribution to Vampires Gone Wild.

*   *   * 
First Dates are Hell, Or How Valiance Got His Groove Back

            Valiance walked up behind the Prima lounging at her favorite table. Six. There were six ways he could attack her while her back was to the main entrance of the coffee shop.
            He looked around.  The space hummed, pulsed with life. Even under the coffee’s aroma and the espresso-soaked floors, he could smell the life of this place, the life of every person in here. His stomach growled.
            This was a test of some sort. His Prima was famous for them. Pushing everyone that extra step to make them better. Scheduling his monthly meeting here instead of in his own place of business was a test. Her directive to be unarmed was a test. And by the uncomfortable nakedness between his shoulder blades and the pressure of the others energy, he wasn’t going to pass this one.
            But he could at least teach her something. Make her better. 
            Finding the ebb and flow of the life around him, he moved toward her, in sync with the others in the café. Their heavy steps along the wooden floor covered his boots as he slid up behind her. He wasn’t going to ignore the irony of stalking a werepanther.
            Valiance slow knelt down and whispered in her ear, “You could be dead.”
            The tall woman jumped in her seat and turned around almost as fast as he could blink. Then she laughed as she smiled down at him. “You really shouldn’t stalk people like that, Val.”
            “You really shouldn’t sit with your back to the door.”
            Violet pointed to the amulet above the door. “Most powerful charm in existence. Nothing bad is getting through these doors, Val. You’re safe here.”
            He exhaled. Her faith was going to be her downfall, but he would fall with her for the faith she had put in him. “You still shouldn’t make a habit of it.”
            “Lesson learned, solider boy. Sit.”
            Valiance slid into the seat across from her, folding his hands on the table between them. From this vantage point, he could see everything in the shop. At least one of them should be on the offensive, no matter how protected the Prima thought she was. Better a thousand times safe than once dead. 

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther


donnas said...

Looking forward to it.

Bonnie said...

Ooooo sounds good. I can't wait. I love the last line.

Bonnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You could cеrtainly ѕеe youг enthusiaѕm wіthin the ωоrk уou write.
Thе arena hopes for eѵen mогe paѕsіonate writeгs such аs уou whо
aге nοt afraid tο mention
hoω theу bеliеve.
At all tіmеs go after your heагt.
Feel free to visit my blog ... 1 month loan