What makes a short story sweet?

Short fiction. Concise, pointed, generally fast-paced. But what makes short fiction Short & Sweet as opposed to just plain Short? I’ve read quite a cross section of short fiction throughout my years of primary school, high school, personal reading and now university. And quite miserably, for every good short piece of fiction that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve had to endure approximately five terrible pieces. The art of short fiction is apparently one in its own right and those who think you can just cut a chapter out of a novel have yourself a short story are very, very wrong. Short stories require quite a bit of coy plotting for although it may not take as long to write and think up as a five hundred page fantasy novel, you have little room for whinnying your way around to the point. You have to get there. Fast. But still with enough padding that you can call it literature as opposed to an assembly of dot points. 

So, that all said, what are your thoughts on short fiction and what makes it good? What do you like to read and what do you think a writer has to do to serve this genre well? 

Just because you have auto-correct now, doesn’t mean you can forsake good grammar.

Facebook doesn’t care if you’re responsible with your apostrophes so long as you post as many inane and pointless status updates as possible. The only punctuation mark that Twitter cares about is its godforsaken hash tag. The YouTube rappersphere doesn’t even adhere to basic spelling; it’s all about dis, dat and da next thang. And finally, and possibly the most devastatingly, the age-old art of letter writing (now known as texting), has been transformed into a terrifying amalgamation of shorthand (e.g. “where r u?”) and auto-correct, rendering the smart phone-wielding population just plain bloody useless. 

There is however, a basic necessity for good grammar and I need only give you one example: 

  • Let’s eat Grandma.
  • Let’s eat, Grandma. 

Commas save lives. Use them. (Correctly, please.)

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Open your minds, open your vocabularies.

Words to Use

I love this compilation (I can’t take the credit for it however – not sure who can); it’s a melange of the delicate and the buxom, the juicy and the subtle, the profound and the itchy. Each word has its own weight, some so light they simply stroke you with their intended meaning; others so heavy that they dent your perspective and shatter your former assumptions. If nothing else, if not good grammar or correct spelling, writers should endeavour to include more words of this calibre in their stories, essays, poetry and musings. These words showcase the very core of language.

Wit, Intrigue and Pragmatism…the ways to WordPress’s Heart.

The Freshly Pressed page: an honour, a privilege, a highly sought-after yet elusive territory into which every WordPress wants to gain access. If you aspire to have your much toiled-over blog post invited into this blogospherical popular group of sorts then you are very much like me. But don’t feel silly (I tell myself), don’t feel shallow (I tell myself) and don’t feel as if your priorities are in the wrong order (I tell myself) for the Freshly Pressed podium is simply a very effective method of exposing your message to a broader audience. And isn’t that the very purpose of blogging? (It is, it is!)

Freshly Pressed

Having scrutinised the Freshly Pressed page on a daily basis since the founding of Free Page Numbers, I’ve noticed a particular trend, one that everyone’s probably already aware of (I should stop flattering my own detective skills) but that I’ll point out anyway:

Titles of Freshly Pressed blog posts are usually one or more of the following:

  • Witty – Some even make you laugh out loud and you haven’t even clicked the link yet.
  • Suggestive of useful information – “Gee, I always did want to know how to do that!”
  • Intriguing – You just cannot help but find out what the title is alluding to.
  • Grammatically Correct – Rarely, if ever, will you stumble upon misspellings in the titles of the Freshly Pressed.

For example, there is currently a Freshly Pressed post titled ‘What Can You See in Fifty-Five Minutes and Thirty Seconds?’  which I judge to meet two of my four Freshly Pressed criteria: Intriguing and Grammatically Correct.

There is also one titled ‘How Watching Football is Like Dancing’ which meets three of my criteria: Grammatically Correct, Intriguing and Witty.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a final example: a recently Freshly Pressed blog post was labelled ‘How to Fake Your Own Death‘, a title that just so happens to meet all four of my criteria: Witty, Suggestive of useful information (who doesn’t want to know that?), Intriguing and Grammatically Correct.

So, having quite concretely established the keys to WordPress’s heart, I must now assess whether this post is worthy of some Freshly Pressed love:

  • Is it witty? Given that I think everything that comes out of my own mouth is utterly hilarious, I’m probably not the most unbiased source to ask but that small element of subjectivity aside, I think I’ll toot my own horn and say, of course it’s bloody witty!
  • Is it intriguing? “…the ways to WordPress’s Heart.” That’s intrigue right there, my friend.
  • Is it suggestive of useful information? Well, given that every WordPress blogger harbours a secret desire to be Freshly Pressed, I’m going to say that yes, a title that indicates a path to the Mother of Blogging’s heart is definitely suggestive of useful information. Vital information, even.
  • Is it grammatically correct? I am, if nothing else, a stickler for correct grammar.

Quite obviously and undeniably, this is a post worthy of a spot on the Freshly Pressed podium. Whether it actually features there or not is an entirely different story but let us all sleep peacefully knowing that it at least merited it!

So there you have it, my friends. If you want to win WordPress’s heart, make sure your posts are cocktails of wit, intrigue, pragmatism and grammar and you’ll soon all be partying it up in what is essentially the platinum lounge of the blogging world!

How do you spell ‘love’?

Love Letter

Love Letter….is there any concept quite as absurd as that of the love letter? A love letter. As if it’s actually possible to congregate your thoughts and feelings and inner absurdities onto one page, as if you can arrange them in coherent sentences or order them letter by letter to resemble something along the lines of sense…while poetry and plays and letters are certainly the language of the heart…I honestly don’t think it’s possibly to accurately communicate love in any kind of orderly fashion.

I therefore vow to forever fire my love letters from canons for the chaos and passion of literary shrapnel is so much more akin to the workings of the human heart.