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Interview

George Washington’s Life in Baseball: Using Characters Your Reader Already Knows

In nineteenth-century novels, there was time to admire the scenery and get to know the characters at our leisure. There might be an entire chapter devoted to the lovely English countryside before we ever met Squire Greenfield, and we might have tea with the good squire in his drawing room in chapter two, admiring the […]

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Write Rites: The Ritual Story

In the previous column we looked at the advantages of writing about characters that the reader already knows. This strategy can be applied to other elements of stories. Anything that you might have to develop for a reader — setting, the rules of a particular society, the backstory for characters — doesn’t have to be […]

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Ellipsis: What to Leave Out

Read Bruce’s previous column here, or visit his author page to see them all. Two columns ago, I looked at how the writer can save words by using a character that the reader already knows. We can also tell stories by leaving out narrative sections or details that the reader can supply on her own […]

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A Story of n Words: How Low Can You Go?

I want to address the question of how short a story can be and still be a story, but to get there we have to consider an obvious question: What is a story? Consider the poor writer whose manuscript was just rejected. The editor has been kind enough to provide some specific comment in the […]

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Consolidated Flash and the Collective Narrator

Read Bruce’s previous column here, or visit his author page to see them all. In this month’s column, I want to address two things at once. The first follows naturally on the previous topic of how short flash fiction can be: How long can we make flash fiction? And because my answer to that question […]

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Small Rebellions: Prose Poems

Read Bruce’s previous column here, or visit his author page to see them all. These columns are about writing flash fiction, but this month I want to peer over the border to examine flash fiction’s sister genre, the prose poem. At least some flash fictions and prose poems are similar enough that it can be […]

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Metamorphoses and Compassion

Read Bruce’s previous column here, or visit his author page to see them all. Zeus was the original Peeping Tom, hiding himself to watch human or divine maidens while they bathed. He particularly liked following Artemis and the nymphs who attended her on her hunts. One nymph in particular appealed to him. Callisto was her […]

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Let Me Repeat That: The Prose Villanelle

This column is about a fixed form first introduced in Short-short Sighted #4 in September 2008. You can also read Bruce’s column from last month here, or visit his author page to see them all. One of the best-known poems in the English language is “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan […]

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Before Your Next Critique Group…

Have you writers ever been critiqued in such a scathing, vicious fashion that you don’t know whether you want to crawl into a hole or beat the critquer with a bat? Can you imagine getting that kind of critique from Mark Twain? I don’t know what James Fenimore Cooper did on reading Twain’s critique of […]

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By the Numbers: The Prose Sonnet

Bruce has a related column about prose poems in our April 2010 issue. You can also read Bruce’s previous column here, or visit his author page to see them all. Any time I begin a discussion of fixed forms, the first such form that I mention is the sonnet. Even if many readers can’t name […]

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