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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“Beauty has no obvious use…and yet…”

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‘Writing is the most solitary of arts. The very act of withdrawing from the world in order to create a counter-world that is “fictitious”—“metaphorical”—is so curious, it eludes comprehension. Why do we write? Why do we read? What can be the possible motive for metaphor? Why have some of us, writers and readers both, made of the “counter-world” a prevailing culture in which, sometimes to the exclusion of the actual world, we can live? These are questions I’ve considered for much of my life, and I’ve never arrived at any answers that seemed to me final, utterly persuasive. It must be enough to concede, with Sigmund Freud in his late, melancholy essay “Civilization and Its Discontents”, that “beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.”’

Joyce Carol Oates, The Faith of a Writer

“Of course you can!”

via “Of course you can!”

Thoughtful, meaningful, authentic…

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