Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

Short story ‘Quiet Refusal’ publishes in ‘RISE’

In Northern Colorado Writers, Quiet Refusal, RISE, RISE An Anthology of Change, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Writing, Writing Short Stories on November 3, 2019 at 11:00 am

1104 Blog-Rise

Shelley Widhalm’s short story “Quiet Refusal” is one of the featured creative works in Northern Colorado Writers’ new anthology, “RISE.”

Northern Colorado Writers will celebrate Nov. 8 the launch of its new anthology “RISE, An Anthology of Change” at the local Gilded Goat Brewing Co.

My short story, “Quiet Refusal,” was among the short fiction, narrative nonfiction/ memoir, and poetry selected via juried entries for the anthology—more than 35 writers have their work featured.

My work is a 2,500-word story about a 93-year-old woman named Christina Walker who believes her children refuse to listen to her need not to be sent to an assisted living facility.

It starts with these words: “I absolutely refuse to move into that assisted living place. I’ve been around too long to have people tell me what to do with my life, especially my own children. I raised them to have manners, and here I am lying in this nursing home with my muscles not obeying my mind, my mouth swallowing my words, and my brain not letting them come together into sentences. I keep telling the nurses where I want to go—just the one word I can get out—pronouncing the “h” with a long, stuttering sound, so my house becomes h-ho-ome.”

Short Story Inspiration

I wrote the story because my mother lives in an assisted living facility, so I have familiarity with the setting, but also because the character came to me full of a big personality but without much of a voice, as she struggles to get out her words.

I visit my mom every other week and feel my heart break a little as I watch seniors with dementia struggle to find their rooms and those with health conditions shuffle as they walk. I usually bring along my dog, Zoey, a 12-pound, long-haired miniature dachshund, and I get stopped for requests to pet her. It’s almost like she’s a therapy dog as the residents smile and tell stories about their own pets.

I’m rambling, yes, but the main point is, please join me and the other writers as we celebrate this new publication. The book is up for the 2020 Colorado Book Awards, and royalties from its sale will help support a new RISE scholarship for aspiring writers to be able to attend the annual NCW conference for free.

“I’m so excited to share this book with, well, everyone in the wide world,” said Amy Rivers, director of NCW, in a letter to the authors about the publication. “It’s full of really inspiring and entertaining pieces.”

Launch Party Details

The 2019 RISE! Anthology Launch Party/ Holiday Celebration will be 6-9 p.m. at the Gilded Goat, 3500 S. College Ave., No. 194, in Fort Collins, Colo. There will be food, drinks and merriment, along with books for sale at a special event rate and authors available to sign their works. The event is free.

Flash fiction vs. short stories

In Flash Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Stories on May 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

I love the term flash fiction, because it makes me think of storytelling that is quick and flashy.

It’s writing that is short, descriptive and to the point but deceptively complex in its tightness.

Flash fiction is a micro or mini version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the publication. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

An ultra short story, flash fiction is a style of fiction of extreme brevity with a definable plot pared down to the core of the story. It’s called micro-fiction, micro-story, skinny fiction, fast fiction, furious fiction, postcard fiction, short short, short short story and sudden fiction. It’s part poetry and part narrative.

To successfully write flash fiction, avoid fragmented storytelling. Tell a complete story with the traditional format of beginning, middle and end, making every word essential, without the extras. Retain the elements of storytelling, because otherwise it will become a snippet of a moment of a larger story or an episode without a theme or story.

I find that it’s best to write flash fiction in one sitting with one idea for a character or plot and work from there. Ask if there’s a point to the story, but don’t get too focused on theme. And write when you are in your own emotional moment, getting words out without worrying about word count.

Begin at the moment of conflict when most of the action is nearly complete, avoiding any kind of introduction or back story. Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the telling of the story. Focus on powerful images. And end with an emotional impact.

Once the piece is finished, here are some tricks to tighten and polish the work:

  • Get rid of adjectives and adverbs.
  • Get rid of unnecessary sentences and descriptions.
  • Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the story.

And remember, what’s left out is just as important. Be concise. Keep the essential details. Cut the rest.

(Note: I recycled this blog from a year ago, because I am so behind with my personal writing and editing projects that I didn’t have time to blog this week. I have a deadline for one of my projects at the end of May.)

Writing Flash Fiction vs. Short Stories

In Writing Flash Fiction, Writing Processes, Writing short Stories on January 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm

What is the difference between flash fiction and short stories beside length?

First, flash fiction is a shorter version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the magazine or journal. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

Think of flash fiction as punchy and to the point, a story of extreme brevity with the plot pared down to the core of the story. Every detail, every character gesture, every description counts; each word has its place. Take one word away and the meaning is lost.

Short stories are more flexible, and unlike flash fiction, may take a couple of sittings to read. There is more space to develop ideas, plot, character and theme; there is at most, one plot and a small subplot or a plot and a half. Flash fiction shouldn’t be more than one plot and one theme.

Like flash fiction, short stories begin with a crisis or conflict right away and avoid describing the origin of the conflict or setting up long character histories. Short stories have one or a few characters and one or a few settings (limited in place and time, such as a day or a couple of weeks) and express a single theme, or message.

Flash fiction works off one idea for plot and character and, like a short story, tells a complete story with a beginning, middle and end with the elements of storytelling in place.

Writing both types of story requires writing that is clear, tight and concise.

To get that tightness, cut unnecessary descriptions, get rid of adjectives and adverbs, remove the word “that” and other empty words, and eliminate details that don’t matter. What may start as a short story can become flash fiction, or a short short, through the slashing of the unnecessary.

With both short stories and short shorts, show, don’t tell with the action. You want the reader to get in and get out and the emotional impact of what you’ve written to resonate beyond the words. Quick and short, they can have that lasting power.

(Note: My flash fiction piece, “A Wanted Man,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming “Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology,” a Kickstarter project. Check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Shoes-Flash-Fiction-Anthology/914714125235669).

Writing Flash Fiction

In Flash Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Stories on January 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

I love the term flash fiction, because it makes me think of storytelling that is quick and flashy.

It’s writing that is short, descriptive and to the point but deceptively complex in its tightness.

Flash fiction is a micro or mini version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the publication. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

An ultra short story, flash fiction is a style of fiction of extreme brevity with a definable plot pared down to the core of the story. It’s called micro-fiction, micro-story, skinny fiction, fast fiction, furious fiction, postcard fiction, short short, short short story and sudden fiction. It’s part poetry and part narrative.

To successfully write flash fiction, avoid fragmented storytelling. Tell a complete story with the traditional format of beginning, middle and end, making every word essential, without the extras. Retain the elements of storytelling, because otherwise it will become a snippet of a moment of a larger story or an episode without a theme or story.

I find that it’s best to write flash fiction in one sitting with one idea for a character or plot and work from there. Ask if there’s a point to the story, but don’t get too focused on theme. And write when you are in your own emotional moment, getting words out without worrying about word count.

Begin at the moment of conflict when most of the action is nearly complete, avoiding any kind of introduction or back story. Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the telling of the story. Focus on powerful images. And end with an emotional impact.

Once the piece is finished, here are some tricks to tighten and polish the work:

  • Get rid of adjectives and adverbs.
  • Get rid of unnecessary sentences and descriptions.
  • Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the story.

And remember, what’s left out is just as important. Be concise. Keep the essential details. Cut the rest.

(Note: My flash fiction piece, “A Wanted Man,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming “Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology,” a Kickstarter project. Check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Shoes-Flash-Fiction-Anthology/914714125235669).

See Zoey the Cute Dachshund’s blog, Zoey’s Paw, at http://zoeyspaw.wordpress.com/

Short story challenge

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Processes on October 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

I find writing short stories more challenging than going for the long haul of writing a novel.

A short story requires you to get in, get out and do it in a way that brings in all of the story elements—plot, character, setting and dialog—without boring the reader. With a novel, you can take your time—but not too much—setting up the igniting spark, storyline, theme, character identities and other story elements.

The length of a short story varies from 1,000-5,000 words or anything or up to 10,000 words, depending on the publication or publishing house doing the defining. Generally, anything less than 1,000 words is considered flash fiction.

Novels are 50,000 words or more, or average 75,000 to 90,000 words.

Because of their length, novels need to sustain readers’ interest over several reading sessions, while a short story can be consumed in one sitting in a few minutes or a couple of hours.

Because of limited space, a short story focuses on a specific time, place, event and interaction. The timeframe typically covers days or weeks, and the setting cannot be in too many places.

Short stories typically begin with a crisis or conflict, getting to the point right away, lacking the time or space for long setups. They have one or a few characters and present a snapshot into the lives of those characters, avoiding long character histories and descriptions.

Also when writing short stories, consider the following:

• Show, don’t tell with the action.
• Use first or third-person, or two characters shifting point of view.
• Express a single theme, or message to get across to the readers.

Essentially, think of a short story as a scene or two that tells an entire story in a quick-to- consume fashion.

See how Zoey the Cute Dachshund approaches short story writing at her blog, zoeyspaw.wordpress.com.