About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What makes a good short story?

Lately I've been spending time resurrecting some short stories I wrote ten years ago. Some of them are woeful, but there are fragments that can be salvaged and turned into good writing. One thing I've found is that in all my early work I've tried to do too much. There is action and the paranormal when the action is enough, or there are far too many charcters, each wanting different things which is better groundwork for a novel.

Source: B. Montgomery

   KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid! should be the catch-cry of the short story writer. I think here of the analogy of weaving. For a small piece a basic eye-catching pattern is enough.
   And voice...your character/s need a good strong voice to convey their depth in such limited space.  Examples such as Alan Paton's 'The Waste Land', R.K. Narayan's 'An Astrologer's Day', Chinua Achebe's 'The Sacrificial Egg' and Witi Ihimaera's 'A Game of Cards' or even 'Beginning of the Tournament' are examples of this simplicity working well to create strong characters and memorable stories. These examples should be well known to PSSC students.
   So this Christmas break I'll keep chipping away at my short stories trying to create a voice and a conflict that is simple yet profound. That to me is the basis of a good short story. Merry Christmas everyone and a happy and safe New Year.

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