Great Short Stories, Good Bones, & Jimmy Dean

A stellar short story starts with grand bone structure. Just like a beautiful face. I read a handful of short stories every single night and I have for decades. There are many that are very good. There are those that aren’t very good, but good—and you can see where they went astray, perhaps, where they try too hard or not hard enough. Lots of telling not enough showing—dialogue / prose that doesn’t understand how to reveal character / atmosphere…you’ve heard the schpeel. The ones I choose to share on Social Media—and my blog (thesanguinewoods.com)—I consider to be so very good and often in the great category. There’s just not enough time or room to share them all across the quality spectrum. But I learn something valuable from each and every one I read. A lot of commentary on short fiction is opinion. Things like style and voice are subjective. What you do with the tools of fiction though—the bones of your story—outside of style—the skin of your story; outside of the way you tell your story—the clothing you put it in—is what makes it just good or great or better than great. If the bones of your story aren’t structured to hold the rest in a way that is believable, you can pile on skin and hair and clothes and more clothes—and it won’t matter. (Photo: Jimmy Dean, ca. 1950s)

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