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Short story writing p2

Write from the Beginning, a how-to book on writing short stories, talks about theme…

The authors of Write from the Beginning say that theme can be sometimes be encapsulated in a proverb or well known adage:

Every short story must have a theme, an emotion you wish to present to the reader, a definite comment on a particular aspect of life. The theme is the message that you want to get across to the reader, a message you feel strongly about, and that your M.C. should feel strongly about, too. A theme for the story outlined above [see previous page] could be “Don’t judge others by your own standards”.

The authors also talk about how conflict is used to create suspense. This involves a character defending their values:

Your main character should be in conflict to justify values that are important to him, and he should have strong emotions about the issue. Your main character could be a girl with old fashioned ideas about marriage, suddenly placed in circumstances where liberated sex is the norm. Her conflict would be an inner conflict, the suspense escalating while the reader continues reading anxiously to see if the main character will resist or submerge her personal values in those of the majority… In all cases, the odds should be against the main character, and the outcome, therefore, is not predictable.

To carry your reader along with you, he must be able to identify wholly with the character and his values, and he must understand the purpose of the main character in the story. Conflicts are related to the main character’s purpose, each conflict test being an obstacle that must be overcome. Conflict means that a possibility for change exists.   

-continued next page