DEEP EDITING SHORT STORIES GOOD TO GREAT Presenter John Hope DEEP EDITING SHORT STORIES: GOOD TO GREAT Audience and Theme Conflict, Conflict, and more Conflict
Ups and the Downs Heroes and Villains Symbolism A Storys Success AUDIENCE AND THEME AUDIENCE AND THEME What are you trying to tell people?
AUDIENCE AND THEME Storytelling is powerful AUDIENCE AND THEME Identify your audience What is important to them? What do they understand?
Where are their emotions? AUDIENCE AND THEME Example: Science Fiction Typically nerdy people are attracted to Science Fiction Characteristics of nerdy people: Difficulty with relationships Enjoys creative alone time Finds intellectual questions fascinating Loves underdog stories
AUDIENCE AND THEME Identify your theme What truths do you want to say to your audience? Okay if truth is only true from a certain point of view. Be bold.
AUDIENCE AND THEME Theme Examples The Lottery, Shirley Jackson Stark, inhumanity of community Sacrifice The Veldt, Ray Bradbury Disconnected parenting Fragileness of life
AUDIENCE AND THEME Incorporating theme after the fact Review scene after scene, allude theme in each one AUDIENCE AND THEME Example: Kids need to learn how to work hard Show benefits of hard work
Show the follies of people/kids who dont work hard Show how people can change with hard work Show different avenues of hard work CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Conflict is our friend
Expose as quickly as possible Layer conflict Intensify conflict CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Expose as quickly as possible Mary wakes up. Mary takes a shower. Mary drinks her coffee. Police come to her door and arrest her husband for tax evasion.
Mary panics and fights with the police. In the struggle, police shoot husband. Mary cries. CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Layer Conflict, example 1 Seeks Foxy Princess Desires Adventure
Luke Skywalker Fascinated by Jedi Tales Clashes with Cynical Hero Bad Guy Wants Him CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT
Layer Conflict, example 2 5-year-old David The Dance Wants to go to the dance with older brother, has to stay home with Grandma 15-year-old Camden
Goes to dance, gets heart broken by girl, comes home CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Layer Conflict, example 2 Davids initial concern for this big brother
I crawl up Camdens bed, slide under the covers next to him, and rest my head on his bare chest. The thumping of his heart beats against my face. I shiver. Camden asks, Whats wrong with you? Camdens concern for I say, Bad dream. A bunch of bad people. They look scary. his little brother Dreams wont hurt you. He wraps his arm around and pats the side of my leg. He sniffles and I feel the shake of his body. I look up and he is wiping his face with his other hand. Davids fear of what
Whatd you eat at the dance? David jealous of not being might have happened Just junk. able to eat junk food at upset the dance I huff. I had SpaghettiOs. Camden about
His voice shakes as he speaks. I like SpaghettiOs. the events at the dance Camden? Camden wishes he Camden concern for Yeah? was five years old his little brothers fears I never want to go to a dance. He pats me again. Na. Theyre not bad. Just sometimes sometimes people are mean.
CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Intensify Conflict Initial Conflict Things Get Worse
Things Get Worse Things Get Worse CONFLICT, CONFLICT, AND MORE CONFLICT Intensify Conflict, Example: Jaws (1975)
UPS AND DOWNS UPS AND DOWNS Pacing Increase Intensity Tense Moments
Reflection / Description UPS AND DOWNS Factors that affect pacing Amount of elaborate descriptive language versus quick, blunt words Number of words used Criticality of the conflict
The amount of time that passes UPS AND DOWNS Example 1: Lord of the Rings Very slow, lots of Clashing of good Entire world at war, explanation verses evil intensifies
series climax UPS AND DOWNS Example 2: The Cat in the Hat Kids are bored Cat does some juggling, frightens the fish Brings Thing 1 and 2, both destroy the house Mom approaches Cat leaves with Thing 1 and 2
Cat returns with a machine that cleans up at the last moment Mom arrives UPS AND DOWNS Tips to decrease pace: Include specific descriptions Flashbacks / reflections / comparisons Tips to increase pace: Use descriptive verbs
Skip boring and/or understood scenes Remove gratuitous elements Let the events explain how people feel/think HEROES AND VILLAINS HEROES AND VILLAINS Readers love to have someone to root for and someone to hate
Good versus evil is universally understood Good guys are just as important as bad guys HEROES AND VILLAINS The good and the bad HEROES AND VILLAINS Heroes: What readers like in characters Has flaws
Humble Good character (dependable / keep promises / honest) Live by morals / standards Helpful / compassionate (esp. for certain people) Funny / sense of humor Courageous, yet shows fear Relatable goals Down to Earth / level-headed / even-tempered Smart Cool (esp. in tense moments)
HEROES AND VILLAINS Villains: What readers dont like in characters Perfect Liar / undependable / carelessly breaks promises Brags / sees themselves as superior Unsportsmanlike / unfair Self-serving Not funny / bad sense of humor Hidden cowards
Unworthy goals Extreme behavior / mood swings Bullies others Whines and complains Panics under pressure HEROES AND VILLAINS Heroes Expose/highlight likeable characteristics Villains
Expose/highlight despicable characteristics In both cases Subtle clues go a long way BE TRUE TO ALL CHARACTERS SYMBOLISM SYMBOLISM The glitter that makes a story shine
Highlights themes and story elements to give them more impact Should not require explanation Requires a strong story first SYMBOLISM: METAPHORS / ANALOGIES Avoid clichs Ex: Prettier than a rose. The more vivid (and specific) the better Ex: The wheel's spinning, but the hamster's dead.
Be consistent with the character making the comparison Ex: (from a boy in rural America) The man was fatter than a pregnant cow. SYMBOLISM: VISUAL REMINDERS Objects that help recall memories Ex: Stuffed animal / doll in an elderly mothers hand may remind her of her children when they were young or when she was young Objects that imply something deeper
Ex: (The Great Gatsby) The billboard eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg = sees through the dishonesty -> loss of loss of morality / spiritual values in America SYMBOLISM: VISUAL REMINDERS Use elements that surround the character(s) Common things that character sees everyday now has new meanings due to circumstances Character(s) sees things in a different light
Character(s) compares things with other elements/experiences SYMBOLISM: DOUBLE MEANINGS Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution. Mae West Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again. L. Frank Baum The only thing we don't have a god for is
premature ejaculation... but I hear that it's coming quickly. Mel Brooks SYMBOLISM: PARALLEL STORIES Duplicate lessons or themes that multiple characters experience Ex: A girl loses her friends trust by plagiarizing her homework.
The girls mom loses the trust of her work associates by taking credit for her peers work. SYMBOLISM: THINGS TO AVOID Will your implications be appropriate for your audience? Ex: A bully taunts a smaller boy by grabbing a small lizard, pulling off its tail, and waving the writhing tail in the smaller boys face. Feedback (from a teacher): This would not be accepted in the school system since this is animal
cruelty and such behavior is seen as roots to serial killers. SYMBOLISM: THINGS TO AVOID Other unintentional implications A STORYS SUCCESS A STORYS SUCCESS
In all cases, success depends on: 1. Getting the right story 2. To the right person 3. At the right time A STORYS SUCCESS THE RIGHT STORY TO THE RIGHT PERSON Know your audience
Who is buying stories in your genre? Who is judging/scoring your story? Has this story already been told? People love stories with which they can connect. A STORYS SUCCESS THE RIGHT STORY TO THE RIGHT PERSON Research Agent / Publishers listings / catalogs How does your story fit?
Does it complement other stories? A STORYS SUCCESS THE RIGHT STORY TO THE RIGHT PERSON Story Characters and Elements Seek readers who have a connection with specific story characters and/or elements 13-year-old boy
Example: Deaf protagonist Boy is bullied Shark conservation Adventure / fantasy A STORYS SUCCESS AT THE RIGHT TIME
How do you guarantee that a story will reach people at the right time? Stay in touch with whats popular trends Talk to / listen to your audience Theres no guarantee A STORYS SUCCESS AT THE RIGHT TIME Best thing you can do:
BE PERSISTENT Spend time doing Set daily / weekly goals Steadily gain success A STORYS SUCCESS AT THE RIGHT TIME Personal experience: Royal Palm Literary Awards
Year Number of Submissions Number of Awards 2012 8
0 2013 5 2 2014
6 2 2015 8 1
2016 7 5 2017 5 (so far)
TBD Totals 39 10 Deep Editing
Short Stories: Good to Great www.JohnHopeWriting.com Click on For Teachers
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