Thursday, December 06, 2007

Raymond Carver's Principles of a Story

I've been struggling lately... What's a good short story? Is it ok to offer the reader a glimpse into a world and then draw the curtains just when they're getting interested? Can you do that with every story?

My writing group suggested I go back and re-read the stories I've written till now in an attempt to identify patterns and problems. A bad idea. It's left me even more confused and makes me wonder - is there a point to any of these stories? Can I even call them that?

Then I do what what is the last (and sometimes first) resort... I google: How to write a short story.

And I find this.

Ps. I am still confused but at least now I have some very inspiring three by five cards up on the wall.

11 comments:

Falstaff said...

Of course, if you really want to know how to write a short story, what you should be reading is Carver's stories, not his essays about writing them.

Lekhni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lekhni said...

My 2 cents - it does not matter how other people write their stories. Different things work for different people.

But if you want a guide, I liked Amit Verma's recent post (Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules on writing fiction). The rule I liked best was "write to please just 1 person." Think about it.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

(Sorry seemed to have swallowed my own comment)

Falstaff - Of course!

Lekhni - I actually read that post earlier today. Perhaps that one person should be me to start with? :)

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

Wow - thanks for posting the link to that article.

It's interesting how Carver says that there are short stories where he does not know the ending. I finished John Irving's "A prayer for Owen Meany" last night, and in the afterword, Irving talks about how he always writes the *last sentence* of his book first. He writes the first sentence a few months after starting the novel, once he knows what it's about.

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

Don't know if you read any science fiction, but here's a link to an audio interview with William Gibson. He says the same thing as Carver - he sometimes writes up to 200 pages before he knows the ending of his own books.

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