Friday, April 5, 2013

(Short Story or Novelette, or Novella)
Several years ago, I bought a 1970 Edition Writer's Digest book titled "Handbook of Short Story Writing." This small book gives practical advice on the how-to's of: Ideas, Characters, Dialogue, Plotting, Viewpoint, The Scene, Description, Flashback, Transition, Conflict, Revision, and Marketing.

With the complete guide, one would think a budding short story writer would soon learn the knack of writing decent stories, and perhaps one day turn into Eudora Welty. You remember her, don't you? I recently found another treasure at my local Half-Price Book Store titled "A Curtain of Green and Other Stories," by Eudora Welty. The first printing was in 1941 and the book has been reprinted many times. Her works are taught in college English courses.

"A Curtain of Green" contains seventeen short stories, ranging in length from twelve pages to twenty-five pages. In case you're wondering the exact length of a true short story, her stories probably can be considered the watermark.

The titles of her stories in "Curtain" are creations in themselves: "Lily Daw and the Three Ladies," "Old Mr. Marblehall," "Petrified Man," and "Death of a Traveling Salesman,"—to name a few.
You didn't know Eudora Welty wrote "Death of a Traveling Salesman?" She did—in 1930. And how many times has that twenty-five-page story been read, and re-read, and studied, and turned into a stage play? She was born in 1909 and died in 2001, went to college but returned home to live out her days in the home she was born in. She never married, but was said to be a "dreamy" sort of girl. I believe this "dreamy" characteristic came about because she was creating stories in her head.
We've all done that, haven't we? Looked dreamy? Or maybe in a trance?

I am no Eudora Welty, nor do I wish to be. But I value the short story more because of her talent, greatness, and influence.

These days, I'm turning more to writing shorter stories. Call them what you will—short stories, short fiction, mini-novels, or novellas—each one contains the same elements as any piece of fiction.

In this busy world we live in, readers must often cram in a few pages here, a few pages there. The short story--or novella, etc.--becomes a godsend for a quick satisfying story to ponder.

The Cattlemen's Ball-FREE-16 pages
By Celia Yeary

The story goes back to the original Cameron male, Ryan Cameron, who becomes the patriarch of the Cameron Family of Texas. 

Take Five-Five short stories-$2.99-198 pages
By Linda Swift

These five short stories will intrigue readers like no other. Each one is a small treasure to savor.

The Short Story--FREE-284 pages
By Robert Louis Stevenson, Bret Harte, Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rudyard Kipling

Volunteers put this collection together as an ebook for the enjoyment of fans and perhaps new readers. It's not professionally formatted, but the stories are still there.

 Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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  1. Celia, I'm in the middle of reading a 1,000+ page book of American short stories that starts with Washington Irving and runs through Joyce Carol Oates. I'm enjoying it greatly, partly because of the changing writing styles.

    I was writing shorts quite a bit for a while. It is nice to be able to write, or read, something short and satisfying in between longer books. I'll never give up on long fiction, but I do like variety. ;-)

  2. LK--variety is the key word. I wouldn't want to read only short fiction, but I do like it once in a while. Eudora Welty has such an odd way of writing and choosing her topics. I love my vintage copy of A Curtain of Green.
    I think you're #1 at writing long fiction!
    Thanks so much for your comment. Strange that you're reading a collection of American short stories now.

  3. Short stories definitely have their place in literature past and present, and I predict they will still be huge in the future. Time is our limiting factor. We all still need to be swept away to that precious adventure, but we need to do it faster!

    Great post.

  4. Celia
    I think the appeal of the short story is the "instant" gratification readers get from finishing the story in a day. I remember reading several shorts in high school and I enjoyed them. If anything, I think a genre needs to revinvent itself every 20 or so years to stay up to date with the changing values of society. Stories generally reflect what's going on at the time they were written.


  5. Maggie--I think you're right, but I sure hope the longer novel doesn't go away. You'd think retired people would have more time to read longer novels, but retirees these days are often even busier than when they worked.
    Like the ereader vs. the paper book, I'm sure there will be a place for both.

  6. You nailed it, Steph. Instant Gratification is the byword of our society these days, especially the younger ones. Older people like me still have that old-fashioned value of waiting until you can afford something.
    Still, short fiction is wonderful reading material. Often, I don't want to read a long book.
    Our book club chooses some books that are 750-1000 words, much like LK's! And often they're impossbile to get for the Kindle...or anything...and the books are often old...okay, I'm griping about my book club. I'll stop now.

  7. I used to write short stories for magazines but haven't written any for years. Maybe I'll try my hand at them again!

  8. Hi, Paula--I had to learn how to write short stories. Even though they're really mini-novels,they area little different--more action and dialogue, mostly.
    Thanks for the comment.

  9. Celia, I enjoyed this blog immensely. And I knew you would have the WD Handbook of Short Story Writing because I've had it for years, too. Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O'Conner are my favorites. And I was able to hear E. Welty speak at the U. Of TN in Chattanooga.She seemed to be a very unassuming and unique person. P.S. Thanks for the inclusion of my S.S. Collection here. I'm honored.

  10. Linda--really? You have the same book? Of course you do!
    This is so weird.

    I wish more people would read your Take Five--it's a priceless little book with those five unique stories. I do love my copy.

    But what really astounds me is that you actually heard Eudora Welty speak. Amazing. Thanks for sharing this with me.

  11. Celia,

    Given a choice in my currently rapid-fire life, I choose books with 4 or more short stories. It takes me so long to get through a full length that I've forgotten the plot by the time I'm three-fourths way through.
    (Just kidding...kinda.)

    Eudora Welty sounds like an interesting person. I would have loved to meet her like Linda did.

  12. What a great post. And what reassuring comments. I love reading and writing short stories but believed there would be no market for them. I was surprised and delighted when the first book I had accepted by a publisher was an anthology of short stories. So glad that there's a general consensus that they're becoming more popular. And thank you for the list of short story books. Heading over to Amazon now .....

  13. Laurean--listen,I do,too. If I begin a long novel, I hope to have long periods of time to read it. But usually I read at night, and
    become sleepy. I started one last night and did not want to close my's so good!
    I also like a book with several short stories. Linda's Take Five is perfect.
    Thanks for visiting!

  14. Jenny--now you know shorter stories are very popular. I knew you liked to write shorts--so this is your time!
    Thanks for your comment!