Writing the Short Story--Getting Started | David Voda | Skillshare

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Writing the Short Story--Getting Started

teacher avatar David Voda

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (1h 5m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Welcome

    • 3. The Anecdote

    • 4. The Dramatic Unities

    • 5. Elements of Fiction

    • 6. Writing Your Anecdote

    • 7. Publishing Your Anecdote

    • 8. Fiction and Reality

    • 9. "The Unicorn in the Garden"--Case Study

    • 10. "The Unicorn in the Garden"--Structure

    • 11. Writing Your Short Story

    • 12. Publishing Your Short Story

    • 13. Next Steps

    • 14. Wrap Up

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About This Class



No matter how rusty your writing skills are, by the end of this course you will have conceived, written and completed an original short story. 

What’s more, you’ll actually understand what you’ve doing in terms of structure, character, scene, climax, and theme.  Free your creative imagination and discover talent you didn’t know you had in this easy, step-by-step course.


If you want to write stories but don’t know how to get started, this course is for you. Beginning writers will learn the basic building blocks of fiction writing, while more advanced authors will find a new and compelling take on how to craft a fiction story.


Writing a short story is easy--if you know what you’re doing.

If you’re sick of vague writing advice that confuses and paralyzes you, this course is for you. In a step-by-step fashion, you’ll learn the absolute essentials for writing any stories--characters with a problem, coherent scenes that move the story forward, dialogue, exposition, climax and theme.

Clear explanations and multiple Creative Challenges will get you to start and keep on writing.

See how far your imagination will take you when you REALLY understand how a short story is constructed.

Dave Voda is a genius teacher. Give this course a try and learn to unlock your creative talent.  And of course it’s no risk because it’s backed by Udemy’s 30-day money-back guarantee.


Aimed primarily at beginning to intermediate writers, this course is designed to cut through the confusion and take writers back to the most basic elements of short story writing.  Just bring an open-mind, your creative imagination and a willingness to explore!

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David Voda


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1. Introduction: you want to write short stories but don't know how to get started? Hang line. You come to the right place. Hi, I'm Dave OTA. I'm a traditionally published author with major publishing houses in New York, and I also have published novels and short stories on Amazon. Kindle and Amazon create space. As an indie author, I teach at various colleges around the Southern California area, including the University of California OSHA program and College of the Desert. In this course, we're gonna be taking a look at how to write a short story Starting from absolute scratch. We're going to look at the concepts involved in writing a short story. Have some fun challenges along the way, and by the end of this course, you will have a short story of your own written and ready to go out to the publishers. I'm excited, and I hope you are, too. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and, of course, our main website at www dot online fiction workshop dot com. And also put your name on our mailing list. You'll find the yarl's below. Are you ready to get started? Great. Let's do it 2. Welcome: Hello, everybody Day voted here again. Welcome to the course. What we're gonna be learning today is the basics of writing fiction. We're going to be talking about character. We're gonna be talking about locations. We're gonna be talking about conflicts and everything that you need to actually write a story. Writing short fiction can be a lot of fun. It can also be very confusing if you haven't really learned the basic craft of the story. And that's what this course is about. Of course, writing fiction is an art and the craft. We're gonna concentrate on the craft because that's where a lot of people are very weak. In this course, we're going to take a look at how to write an anecdote. An anecdote is a short nonfiction story, usually no more than 100 words or so. And the reason we're to study this is that contains the essence of a story. We're also gonna be doing some readings. The readings range from James Thurber to a sop to Franz Kafka and other contemporary writers. And you can find the readings in the student resource is file along with other challenges and cheat sheets and exercises When you finish this course, you are going to have to complete works that you could send out to publishers. One is going to be a short nonfiction anecdote that could be published in a local newspaper or Reader's Digest is a great market for that, and in fact, we're gonna look at some Reader's Digest antidotes. The other is going to be a short, short story around 750 to 1000 words that you can submit to flash fiction magazines or other contemporary journals. All right, you guys ready to get started? Let's go. 3. The Anecdote: we're going to start our study of the short story form by taking a look at an anecdote. An anecdote is a short no more than 100 words or so nonfiction story, usually personal, sometimes in the third person relaying an experience that someone had. The magazine Readers Digest is quite famous for publishing these anecdotes, and in fact, that will be one of the markets for the anecdote that you write in this course. Why are we starting with a look at an anecdote and anecdote is a microcosm of a story. It has a beginning middle in and really incorporates all of the elements that a short story has. And so we'll see a little later on how this leaks into our writing and how we can use what we learn about an anecdote in writing short fiction. So Readers Digest is quite famous for these anecdotes. Let's have a look at one of them. It's called The Man in the Market. You'll find it in a student resource is that you download with this course the man in the market. When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags when another shopper handed me a $20 bill. Please don't put yourself out, I told him. Let me tell you a story, he said. My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with my money. So here, please accept this. It is my mother's flowers. That is a charming story. It is a perfect example of an anecdote. What are some of the elements in this anecdote that we can take into our fiction writing? Well, first of all, let's start with people, right? We have various people in this anecdote. Notably you have the narrator, the woman who was short $12 at the Conner. And you have the man whose mother has cancer. There's also, I suppose, somewhere offset. Is the clerk this ringing her up? All right, people. What are some of the other elements here? It's said at a location. Where is it? It's a market. Which market is it exactly? We don't know. But the story takes place at a market, and it also takes place when at a particular time again, we don't know whether it's 9 a.m. or five PM, but we do know exactly what time this story started. And it started when the narrator discovered that she was short, some money at the cash register and then the man offered, or some money. That's the time of the story. What else does this story have? It has dialog right back and forth, dialogue between the character. Here, Here's $20 0 please don't put yourself out. No, please take it. My mother is dying of cancer and so on. So we have back and forth dialogue between the characters. We also get some background information about the setting in the circumstances of the story . For instance, a two beginning, we learned that the narrator is in a market and finds herself short, and we also learn a bit about the motivation of the person who offers to $20 his mother's in the hospital dying of cancer and has instructed him to uses money for something other than flowers. What else does this story illustrate? It has a point, right? What is the point of the story? The point of the story is the point of the headline in The Reader's Digest stability, and that this was taken from, and that is, that this is a teary eyed story illustrating the touching kindness of strangers. In other words, this is a story that shows that strangers sometimes do wonderful, altruistic things for no other reason than out of the goodness of their heart. What other elements is a story? Have it has a problem, right? The character who is narrating this story has a problem. The problem is she doesn't have enough money to complete her purchase. We also have a conflict because the gentleman that is offering the $20 once the giver $20 she doesn't want to take the $20. So we have a conflict between the two characters, and we have a climax or a resolution. Now, here that climaxes sort of implied in the ending. When the gentleman says Here, take this $20. It is my mother's flowers, and it has implied that the narrator at that point relents and takes the $20 problem solved . Right? So this little anecdote illustrates all the basic points that you will find in a fiction story. We're gonna talk about that in a little more depth in the next video. 4. The Dramatic Unities: talking about the anecdote, the man in the market, what makes it hold together? What makes it come together as a story with a beginning, middle and end? I'd like to talk a little bit about something called the classical unities, where the Greek unities, or sometimes known erroneously as Aristotle's dramatic unities. And what are these dramatic unity's? They are unity of time, place and action. What is unity of time? As I said, looking at the man in the market, we don't know whether that story took place on August 24th or July 5th. We don't know whether it took place at 9 a.m. at noon or at 3 p.m. But we know that it took place at a particular time. And what time is that? The time when the narrator was at the market and came up $12 short when it was time to check out everything in the anecdote happens starting at that time. It also has unity of place. Where does this incident take place? All at the same place at the market at that exact market where she was when she discovered she was $12 short and finally it has unity of action and what is unity of action? In order to have a story of any sort, a character has to have a problem. If there is no problem, there is no story. You can write a description and you can write dialogue and you can talk about the inner thoughts of the character, and you can switch characters to a different location. If there is no problem, there is no story. We're gonna hammered this point home as we continue along. So what is the problem that the character in the story isn't Connery? She is short $12 for the purchase he wants to make and what struggled that she go through. She meets a stranger who wants to give her $20. However, she doesn't want to accept $20 from a stranger. It seems weird, it seems strange. He explains why he wants to give you $20. His mother has cancer, or she's forbidden him from spending our money on flowers and ordered him to use that money for some other charitable purpose. When he explains this to the woman, she is much more at ease and is able to take that money and complete her purchase. Her problem is now solved, and that's why the story ends with her accepting that money. The story begins when she discovers the problem. She undergoes a struggle or conflict in this case with the gentleman that's trying to help her out, and in the end she solves the problem by deciding to except the money from the stranger. So that is unity of action. It is all one problem that is being talked about. In that anecdote. The three classical unities have been a groundwork for drama in the in the West, at least since the Renaissance. Aristotle hinted of these unities, and later they were developed by Renaissance authors in Italy and France and later in England. And it became a way of structuring a story. We're dealing with a simple anecdote, but entire plays and movies have been, and books have been constructed that have unity of time, place in action. For instance, in 2000 and two, there was a movie called Phone Booth. A man is walking past a phone booth. It start, the phone starts to ring. He picks it up and discovers that a sniper has a bead on him and for the rest of the movie . He is stuck in that phone booth, trying to reason in real time with the sniper, as well as the police and other people who come along in the story. But it has unity of place that all takes place in a phone booth, and it has unity of time. It starts when he picks up the phone and ends when he resolves the incident with the sniper and his unity of action. His life is threatened the minute he picks up the phone, and his life is saved when he discovers a solution. So unity of time, Place in action is a basic storytelling technique. For your creative challenge, I would like you to take a look at the anecdote entitled My Granddaughters Dress. Is this an anecdote that has unity of time? Does it all take place in one continuous time? Doesn't have unity of place? Does it all take place in one particular location and finally, does it have unity of action? Is there one particular problem that the narrator is facing that needs to be solved? And does that problem get resolved or not? By the end of the anecdote. So have a look in our next unit. We're going to take a look at some other basic features of a story that we could discover in this anecdote. 5. Elements of Fiction: the dramatic unities, time, place and action. Let's see if we can identify them in a different anecdote, also drawn from the Reader's Digest pool. Have a look. This one's entitled I can Still help. As I walked through the parking lot, all I could think about was the dire diagnosis I had just handed my patient Jimmy pancreatic cancer. Just then I noticed an elderly gentleman handing tools to someone working under his old car . That someone was Jimmy. Jimmy, what are you doing? I yelled out. Jimmy dusted off his pants. My cancer didn't tell me not to help others, Doc, he said before waving at the old man to start the car. The engine roared to life. The old man thank Jimmy and took off. Then Jimmy got into his car and took off a swell take home message. Kindness has no limits and no restrictions. What are the unities in this particular piece? Well, let's start with place. Where does this take place? It essentially all takes place in the parking lot. The doctor is walking to the parking lot when he thinks about his patient, Jimmy, and then he sees Jimmy, so it has unity of place. How about time? Does this incident all happen in one continuous time? Yes, the doctor is walking through the parking lot. He spots Jimmie, He and Jimmy have a conversation, and the doctor walks away with his closing thought. And what about Unity of Action? What is the problem that the doctor encounters he sees is very sick patient underneath the car, helping someone when the doctor is startled and feels that he should be not extending himself so much? So there is a problem that the doctor perceives. And then, through Jimmy's action, the problem is solved. The old man gets his car fixed and Jimmy drives away. But this anecdote also illustrates other elements that are common to all anecdotes and indeed all scenes and even stories and novels. Let's talk about those for a moment. We've already mentioned time and place, so every scene is set at a particular time and place. We also have people who were the people involved here. We have the doctor, and we have Jimmy. We also have the elderly gentleman, but he doesn't play much role in the actual story. He's kind of a prop. Now we can use these literary terms protagonist antagonise to describe the characters. So protagonist simply means my main character And who is the main character in the story? The main character is the doctor. He's the one that has a problem. Actually, his patient has a bigger problem, but he's the one that encounters a problem on this moment when he runs in to Jimmy in the parking lot, fixing somebody's car. And then we have Jimmy, Jimmy is the antagonised. We don't like to use the terms hero and villain for exactly this reason. If we say that the doctor is the hero of the peace, does that mean that Jimmy is a villain? No, but Jimmy does oppose the doctor that we try to make this clearer. What is the problem that the doctor encounters? Why does he snap it? Jimmy, Jimmy, what are you doing? Because he's concerned for his patient. He He knows that Jimmy is very sick, and he doesn't expect to see him lying on his back in a parking lot fixing somebody's car. When he's just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He thinks the patient should be taking better care of himself, or at least not exerting himself the way that he is. So that is the problem that the doctor has when he sees Jim be lying on his back, fixing an elderly gentleman's car. We call this the inciting incident. When we're talking about a story, why it is the problem that gets the story underway. It incites the story. This is the incident that incites the story that gets things going and you don't have a story unless you have a problem. The doctor is startled to see Jimmy fixing the elderly man's car, and he doesn't think Jimmy should be doing that. What does Jimmy think? He thinks just the opposite. He thinks that there's nothing in the diagnosis that prevents him from continuing to go out and do works of goodwill in the world. So what do we have? We have a conflict. Every story has a conflict. So we have a problem of first and we have a conflict here. The conflict is expressed in the lines of dialogue to go back and forth between the characters. They disagree with each other. Jimmy, what are you doing? There's nothing in my diagnosis that prevents me from helping this other gentleman Sometimes the conflict is expressed by obstacles that the character has to overcome. For instance, if the problem is person needs to get across the river, the river becomes an obstacle and some kind of solution well to be found, the character will either have to wade across the river or find a boat or pay someone to help them get across the river. And so why so obstacles inclined flicks and the story ends when the problem is resolved. And how is the problem resolved? The doctor observes Jimmy fixing the car, saying goodbye to the elderly gentleman and driving away, and the doctor realizes that there is no problem, that there's no limit on kindness. So that is the climax and the resolution of this particular story. And what's the point? What's it all mean? The point is explicitly stated here in that last line that kindness has no limits and no restrictions. That is the meaning of the incident that the doctor has taken away. So this anecdote illustrates all of the basic elements that you will encounter in a anecdote or indeed, in a scene or even in a story or novel. There are, of course, people characters. We usually have one who is the main character, and we have somebody in opposition to them. The antagonised. We have a particular location here. It's a parking lot and a particular time. The exact moment that the doctor walks into the parking licensees Jimmy and getting the story off is a problem. When the doctor sees Jimmy lying on the ground fixing somebody's car, he is upset because he thinks Jimmy is not taking care of himself. That's the problem that the doctor has now. We have conflict between Jimmy and the doctor expressed in dialogue. Jimmy doesn't think it's a big deal. The doctor does. Jimmy explains what he's doing, and we have a resolution to the problem. Jimmy manages to fix the car, the elderly gentleman is on his way and Jimmy drives off. No worse for wear. Resolving the problem in the doctor's mind. Who realizes the point that kindness has no limits and restrictions for your creative challenge? I'd like you to take a look at the anecdote entitled My Granddaughters dress. See if you can find each of these elements that we just talked about, who were the people involved, who is the main character, the protagonist, who is the antagonised? What is the problem that the protagonist has? Where does the conflict occur between the protagonist and antagonised? How does that problem get resolved? Where does the action take place? When does it take place? Is there any background information that the author provides to help us understand the story that he or she is about to tell? And finally, what's the point of it all? What's it all mean? Have a look and analyze that story because in the next video you are going to be writing your own anecdote. Let's go. 6. Writing Your Anecdote: a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. It's time for us to get up and get going. And let's actually now put some of the stuff that we've learned into action by writing an anecdote of our own. So your challenge in this video is to actually take some of the principles we've been talking about and write an anecdote of your own. You'll find the challenge written out with some notes, along with some prompts to help get you started in The student Resource is foul. What you're looking for is an event where you were confronted with a small problem of some sort. This events should take place at one particular place one particular time. Of course, there's going to be people in it, probably yourself and possibly someone else. The problem that arises is going to create a little bit of conflict, which might be resolved through some dialogue with your opponent, your antagonised, and at the end of your anecdote, you either solve or not solved the problem. In any case, you will probably learn something, and that is your theme. Sounds pretty simple. It is pretty simple, and now it's time to actually put pen to paper and write something. Let me actually give it a shot while you guys were looking over my shoulder. So looking over the challenge for video six writing anecdote, I'm looking at the prompt questions here and trying to get a sense of what I might want to write about. And I'm just going to take the 1st 1 right About a time when something funny happened. Something that made you stand back and laugh. What was the problem and how did it get resolved? Okay, let me start a new document. Yeah, and I am going to write about a time when I had a couple young puppies in the house and they ripped up a bunch of papers, including a paycheck. All right, so I got its at the time and the background. So here we dio I waas enamored of the too cute puppies I had rescued from the pound. This is background information. They love to tumble and play on the living room carpet. Okay. And I think I need to add this detail and they especially I loved to care up pieces of scrap paper. They around around the house one day. Now this is the time in the place. I think we have the place, the living room carpet. One day I came home from the Grace three store to find the entire living room carpet covered in shredded papers. The puppies I had gotten into a waste basket, tipped it over and went to town. I put down the groceries and pulled out my cell phone to take a picture, thinking what joy the little creatures brought to my house. Only then, when I started to clean up did I realize that one of the shredded papers on the floor was my latest pay check. Okay, that seem pretty good to me. I think maybe it needs to be pointed up a little bit with my business anecdote. Mean bad puppies. I screamed all the while kicking myself for not keeping my pay check out of their reach. All right, that's approximately there. In fact, I like it. I'm going to give it a title. It's called Lesson from the puppies. Done. That's it. That's my anecdote. It needs a little polishing as I re read it, and I see especially that I forgot to mention that the paycheck was lying out on top of my computer chair, but overall, I think it hits the march we needed to hit. It's something that takes place at a single time, a single place. The puppies introduce a problem. My paycheck is ripped up, and that problem is resolved when I realize that it's not the puppies fault. It's my own. Now it's time for you to write your own anecdote when you finish, I'd like you to go to our Facebook page and poster anecdote there, in the special section I've provided. Have some fun with your writing because in our next video, we're gonna talk about how you can actually get your anecdote published. 7. Publishing Your Anecdote: So you've written your first anecdote. Great. I hope it's funny. I hope it's charming, and I hope I learned something from it. What are you going to do with your anecdote? Let's get your fiction career off to a great start by submitting it to some magazines Now, normally, when I have a story or a novel that I want to submit, the first place I turn is the writers market. This is a publication published annually by Writer's Digest. It lists thousands of magazines and book publishers as well as agents with phone numbers, emails and so on. And it tells you exactly what kind of material they're looking for and what their submission criteria are. To make the process a little easier for you, I've chosen to really good markets for your anecdote. The first is Reader's Digest, Reader's Digest, a monthly magazine General interest. It publishes probably 50 anecdotes every issue. They have various departments, such as humor in uniform, and that's the way life is and so on. And so they're always looking for material, and they've made it very easy to submit a story. All you have to do is go to their submission website. Here, you see the U. R L just cut and paste your story, fill out the information and click the submit button. The second magazine I've chosen is Reminisce. Reminisce is a nostalgia magazine. It also uses quite a few anecdotes in every issue. It, too, has a submission page on the Internet. And once again, all you need to do is cut and paste your anecdote into the box, fill out your information and send it off at reminisce. I don't believe there's any payment, but you will get to see your work in print. If you're going to submit to either of these magazines, I recommend that you go out to a new stand and pick up copies at least one issue and take a look so that you know exactly the kind of material that they're looking for and what the different departments are. But why haven't been putting all this emphasis? I'm writing the anecdote. An anecdote is a lot of short story. What is the connection? Let's go to the next video to find out 8. Fiction and Reality: you finished your anecdote and you've got it off to the publisher. That's the first step in becoming a writer getting your work out there. Congratulations. But why have I been putting such emphasis on this anecdote? The anecdote is a nonfiction form of writing, and this is supposed to be a course about writing fiction have chosen to look so closely at an anecdote because it is an analogy for the basic building block of stories, which are scenes. The nonfiction anecdote uses the same structure as a scene in a story. Everything we've talked about as being true for an anecdote also holds for a scene in the story. An anecdote takes place at a single time, a single location and with people who are trying to solve a problem and succeed or fail. That's exactly what happens in a scene in fiction. The only difference is our characters in fiction are made up. They're not riel, and the story we're describing is something that has some plausibility but never really happened. In other words, it's a lie now. Have you ever wondered why people want to read lies? We don't like lies in real life? Why do we like to read in fiction, the meat. Be philosophical here for a moment. I think we all agree most of us anyway. If we haven't had a highfalutin college education, that reality Israel. In other words, there's something out there that's not us. There was a famous Twilight Zone episode where a man was unsure whether that stuff out there was really or in his head. And so he steeled himself to put his hand into the propeller of a plane. I think we all know that if we were to go put our hand into the propeller of a plane, are hand would be chopped off. And if we stood in the middle of the road with trucks whizzing by, we would get hit and possibly killed. So we, generally speaking, believe in objective reality. We're not living in the Matrix, and we're not living in a hole a gram, or if we are, what difference does it make because we don't act as if we believe that. All right, what what application does that have for fiction? I know that if I put my hand into the prop of a propeller, my hand will get chopped off I don't know what would happen if I put my hand into the face of someone across the subway from me. They might reach out and touch it. They might take my hand and kiss it. They might shove it away or they might punch me in the face. And why is that? The reality is, I don't know why that is because I'm locked in my head. I live life in objective reality, but the only reality I know is what's in my head. And yet I know there are other people out there, and I imagine those other people must think something like me. But I also know that they never think exactly like me. One person, if I reach out to touch their face, might kiss my hand because they're in love with my beauty. Another person, if I reach out to touch them, might pull back and smash me in the face because they're afraid of my intimacy. Writing fiction is a way of exploring the world, the world of relationships between people. First of all, writing fiction allows us to express what the world looks like to us. How do we see a sunset? How do we see that other person in the subway car? Do we choose to focus on the beautiful story night? Or do we choose to focus on the fact that it's freezing cold attitudes, values? These are the things that make up our world view. Next weekend begin to speculate what is going on with those other people. I'm really enjoying the story night. Why is Laura sitting over there angry at me, curled up in a little ball? I can explore that in a work of fiction. In our fictional story, we are attempting to make sense of the world were able to say what we're thinking, how we see the world were able to imagine how we would see the world if we were, let's, say, another gender or if we were living 500 years ago, or if we were living in a spacecraft landing on a distant planet in another galaxy. It's a projection of our understanding of how people interact and what's going on in their heads. So fiction is a way of imagining what's in the heads of other people is a way of bringing our imaginations to bear on why people act. The way they do. Another reason that I've put so much emphasis on the anecdote is that the anecdote as a fictional seen in other words with fictional people confronting a fictional problem becomes a basic unit of the sorts short story, and you can construct an entire story out of nothing. But a series of anecdotes written as scenes will start calling them scenes from now on. So before you look at the next video, I'd like you do take a look at the James Thurber story that's in the student resource, is readings and is entitled The Unicorn in the Garden. I'm sure you will enjoy it, read it and then let's study it a little bit and see how it's constructed. 9. "The Unicorn in the Garden"--Case Study: the Unicorn in the Garden. I think we can agree that that is a very amusing story by James Thurber, the famous American humorist and cartoonist who worked for The New Yorker magazine in the 20th century. The Road. A number of delightful humor stories, including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the Catbird Seat, as well as the Unicorn in the Garden. Let's think for a few minutes about what he's done here in the Unicorn in the Garden. Let's take some of those basic elements of a story that we talked about with the anecdote and look at the unicorn in the garden in light of those elements. Where does the story take place? That takes place in and around a house somewhere in suburban house with garden? What time does it take place? One morning, the morning that the man walks out and sees a unicord in his garden, Does it have continuous action? Yes, the Unicorn introduces a problem, and the problem is not resolved until the end of the story. And what is the nature of the problem? The problem that the man runs into is that he sees a unicorn in the garden and wants to share this wonderful and strange news with his wife, and the wife wants nothing to do with him. She won't even get out of bed to see the unicorn in the garden. I think that you and I, if a friend of where husband or wife, ran in and said, Hey, come, look, there's a unicorn in the garden. We would go check it out right? That tells you something about her character. So what do we have? Not we have a problem. There's a unicorn in the garden and my wife won't go look at it. And we have two people at odds with each other. The main character, the husband and his opponent, the wife, the protagonist and the antagonised. Now what happens? What does the man do? He returns to the garden, and in fact, the unicorn is still in the garden, even though his wife just that it was a mistake, mythical beast. And not only is it not mythical, its eating the lilies, he goes back up and relays this information to his wife, who once again rejects what he's telling her and refuses to confirm it with her own eyes and really can't wait for him to be gone so that she can call the psychiatrist and the policeman in order to finally rid herself of this burdensome, foolish husband. One of the questions in this story is Who is the rial booby is that the man who sees the unicorn in the garden is delighted, wants to share it? Or is that the wife who is so close minded that she refuses to even look out the window to see the unicorn in the garden? Well, I think we know which side that the author comes down on because of the way the story resolves what happens. The police and the psychiatrist listen to her story gravely and then decide that she must be insane. But just to double check, they asked the husband whether he, in fact told her that he was seeing a unicorn in the garden. And he denies it, explaining that the unicorn is a mythical beast. All of which leads us to the moral. Don't cut your boobies until they're hatched. Of course, this is a conflation of two cliches. Don't count your chickens until they're hatched. And calling a mental institution a booby hatch this is the theme were the meaning of the poor. The point, In other words, don't be too sure about who is the booby and who is not the booby. So this story, the unicorn in the Garden, shows that those same elements that were present in the anecdote er also present in a longer story. We have people, we have a location, we have time. We have a problem that is introduced, and we have people in conflict with each other, a protagonist in an antagonised. And finally, we have the problem being solved in one matter. Another here It sold ironically, when the husband lies and says to the psychiatrist that there was no unicorn in the garden for your creative challenge. I'd like you to take a look at the fable that I've included in the readings by a sop entitled The Horse and The Loaded Ass. Who was the main character in that story? And who is the opponent? In other words, who is the protagonist who was the antagonised? What is the nature of the conflict that develops between them, and how is that conflict resolved? And finally, what is the theme point? Meaning of that particular fable Have a look, and when we get back, we're going to continue to talk about the unicorn in the garden. 10. "The Unicorn in the Garden"--Structure: the unicorn in the garden. Let's take a closer look at the story to see how it is. The Thurber actually put it together. What is the structure of this story? How did he get all of the different pieces moving in the same direction? I've loaded up on my word processor? Let's have a look. The Unicorn in the Garden By James Thurber Once a point of sunny morning, a man who sat in the breakfast looked looked up from scrambled eggs to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly cropping with roses in the garden. This first sentence really is background information that gets our story off to a start. And, of course, it's a wonderful start because as soon as you hear this ridiculous idea that a man looks out into his garden, sees a unicorn, you're hooked. And that's really what a writer needs to do immediately is hooked. The reader. If you have a look at the story in your reading material, your noticed that I've divided it up with a series of lines. And what are these lines? These lines are marking off different scenes in this story, and what is a scene, a scene is an anecdote, but fictional. Each scene takes place in a particular time. Each scene takes place at a particular location. Each scene has some kind of problem that is being worked, applying a resolved and each scene has some kind of conflict. So this first sentence introduces the glimmerings of a problem. But really, it's background information to understand what happens in the next little anecdote. The man went up to the bedroom, so now we've changed locations were his wife the second personage of still asleep? There's a unicorn in the garden, he said, eating roses. The unicorn is a mythical beast, she said, and turned her back on him. In other words, he wants to share his delight at finding a unicorn in the garden, and she won't even look out the window. That is the problem of the story. How does he get his wife to appreciate this wondrous event that's happening right outside of their home? Well, we now see how these characters lineup. We have the husband, who is the main character, the protagonist, and we have the wife who opposes the main character. She is the antagonised for the rest of the story. There is a conflict now between the husband and the wife revolving around whether she is going to give in to the husband and appreciate that there is a unicorn in the garden or whether she is going to resist having that experience. The third section, What's the problem? The problem is that the wife has now shaken the husband's faith that the unicorn actually exists. And so he goes back to the garden in order to check on it. And in fact, the unicorn is still there. The unicorn is eating tulips and to make doubly certain that the unicorn really, really does exist. He feeds it a lily, and the unicord eats the lily and with a high heart because there's a unicorn in the garden . He rushes back upstairs to tell his wife this wondrous news. And what is the wife's response again? She refuses to investigate. She refuses to participate in his joy. In fact, she tells him that she is going to turn him into the booby hatch. He goes back out looking for the unicorn. But now the unicorn is gone. Now we switch to a new time in place. The bedroom. In great excitement, the wife hatches a plot, and her plot is to bring in a psychiatrist and police with a straitjacket in order to apprehend the husband and get him out of her life. New Antidote. New SCENE The policeman and the psychiatrist arrive, and they sit and listen to the wife as she babbles on about how her husband has been telling her all about the unicorn in the garden. And ironically, instead of believing the wife, they throw her into the straitjacket. And now we have a new scene, starting the police as their courting her out of the house. Asked the husband if he, in fact, did say that there was a unicorn in the garden. And he says, Of course not. The unicorn is a mythical beast, repeating the words of the wife. What is he doing? He is solving the problem of the story. He could have stopped and explained to the police what was going on, but he now sees a convenient way to get rid of his life. The wife that will never agree to share the wonder of the unicorn in the garden. So by lying the police cart away the wife to the mental institution to the booby hatch, and he lives happily ever after. Problem is solved. That's the climax. It is resolved. And then finally, we're left with that moral. Don't cut your boobies before they're hatched. So what's our take away from the story? We have a main problem that is introduced quite quickly in the first or second segment of this story, and then we have a number of attempts to resolve that problem. In various ways. We have conflict between the protagonists and the antagonised, and finally, at the end of the story, the problem is resolved. Also, we note that this story is told as a series of little anecdotes, each of them taking place at a particular time, a particular place with a problem that is being worked on and conflict between the characters. Each of those smaller segments resolved one way or another and lead us into that next section said that by the end, the overall story is resolved for your creative challenge. I'd like you to take a look at the story entitled My Father's Wallet that you will find in your readings. This is a story I authored and it is directly based on this kind of story structures. A series of short scenes, anecdotes, fictional scenes strung together with an overall problem and resolving that problem. I've started with these very simple stories because I think it's clearer in them how they work. But as you move on in your fiction writing career, you are going to see that these stories can be built in very sophisticated ways, using these very simple structures. But for right now, have a look at my father's wallet. See if you can identify the different sections, the scenes that that is comprised of and in each scene. See if you can figure out what the problem is that the characters are trying to solve at the end of the story. Is the overall story problem solved? How does it get resolved? Have a look and then let's go on to our next video 11. Writing Your Short Story: Let's take everything that we've learned and put it together. It's time to actually begin writing our very first short story, using some of the elements and techniques we talked about in this class. This story we're going to write is going to be relatively short, only about 500 to 1000 words. Somewhere around the length of the Thurber story that we looked at, this is usually called a short, short story. Also, it is one way of writing a flash fiction story. When you have completed this challenge, you should have a marketable short, short or flash fiction story to send out to for publication. You'll find the actual challenge in the student of Resource is it contains with it a cheat sheet for helping you put your story together. What are you going to write about? Love That's up to you. I've given you some prompts in the student resource is for this particular challenge, and I've also given you a cheat sheet about how to go about writing this story. We're using the James Thurber story as a model for how to proceed and remember for this particular challenge, you are going to be writing a story of 500,000 words. So don't pick a problem that is over the moon like your character has to find the love of his life. That's not gonna happen in 1000 words that you have to write this story, make it something simple. The character has to find his shoe that he's lost somewhere in order to go out on a date. And how is the James Thurber story constructed? You'll recall that it's a series of little scenes. Each scene takes place at a single time, a single place with one action, a problem that the character is trying to solve and either by the end, resolves the problem or fails to resolve the problem. Your story's gonna be structured as a series of short scenes. Each scene is constructed exactly like an anecdote, a time a place, people and a problem that is introduced. You're going to construct the story from a series of these anecdotes, maybe 45 or six anecdotes strung together, and the beginning of your story is going to be presenting a problem that carries through for the entire story. So, using the example of the man who has misplaced his shoe. That's the problem of the story. He's gonna make several attempts to find his shoe, and the story is only gonna be resolved when he actually finds issue. The difference between writing a single anecdote or a single scene and writing a story has to do with the overall story. Question. This is a problem that you introduce in the early part of the story that doesn't get resolved right away. For instance, in The Thurber story, the husband wants to get his wife to share his enthusiasm and excitement about finding a unicorn in the garden. And that doesn't really get resolved until the very end of the story, when the wife is carted away by the police in the middle of your story are going to be the attempts that the protagonist, our main character, makes to solve the problem of the story. For instance, in The Thurber story, the husband wants to get his wife to share his enthusiasm and excitement about finding a unicorn in the garden, and that doesn't really get resolved until the very end of the story, when the wife is carted away by the police. In between are a number of other smaller anecdotes or other anecdotes. Other little scenes where the character attempts to solve that problem. The story ends when, after several tries at resolving that overall problem, the character actually comes up with a way to finally resolve the problem that you introduced in the opening anecdote. With your problem now solved, your story is over. Sometimes there could be a short little coda were a little sentence or two that indicates what the characters new situation is. The husband lived happily, happily ever after and implies something about the theme in the Thurber story. It's explicitly stated. Don't count your boobies until they're hatched. So that's it. That's your assignment. Have a look at the prompts. Have a look at the cheat sheet. Make some notes in your diary and when you have finished, come on back to the next video and we'll decide what we're going to do with your story. 12. Publishing Your Short Story: congratulations. You've written your first short story using some of the principles that we've been talking about in this course. I hope that you not only have finished your story, but you understand now better what you've done, how you've set up a problem and that you've developed the problem through a series of scenes until finding that problem is resolved. Now that you've finished your story, what are you going to do with it? First of all, before you submit it to magazines, I would suggest that you put it on our private forum to receive some critiquing from some other members of our community. This is a forum only for paid members of online fiction workshop where you could submit your material and get feedback from other authors and, of course, leave feedback for other authors. So register now at the U. R. L. You see, and you will find a place where you can post your story. You'll also find a checklist that you can use to give feedback to other authors. So if you want to be back, give feedback and this is a great place where you could put your workout in a supportive atmosphere. and get a little one on one attention. When your story is ready for publication, where are you going to submit it? Well, as usual, I would start with Writer's Digest. When you're looking for a place to sell a short story, the first place I would turn will be the writers market. They list dozens of magazines that accept short fiction, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what they are looking for, what the submission procedures are at the Raiders market. We've also talked about the magazine reminisce. They use quite a few stories that are of a nostalgic nature. If your story falls into that category than reminisce might be a good market for you. Next, we have flash fiction on line. This is no online publisher, but they do pay $80 per story, and every month they publish an issue of flash fiction online. If you are trying to get into the science fiction Writers of America and you are published here, this will count towards your membership. Finally, if you think you've really knocked it out of the park with your piece of short fiction, you might investigate The New Yorker. This would be akin to landing on the moon with your world wagon bus. If you were able to get your story published in the New Yorker, however, they do publish short fiction. If you're gonna go for this market, I would recommend that you read the New Yorker and see what kind of fiction and what kind of voice they're looking for. But if you have a suitable story that make it very easy to submit, just go to the Contact US page and there are directions for submitting fiction as well as poetry. If you have a poem that you want to submit so those air some markets that you might want to investigate to publish your work of short fiction. Once you've submitted your story, it's time to start working on some new material before you do. However, you might want to take a look at some of the other stories have included in our readings, and we're gonna talk about that in the next video 13. Next Steps: Obviously, there's a lot more to learn about writing fiction than what we've talked about so far in this course, and in the next course we're going to get into some of the other advanced fiction techniques you can use to improve your story. However, don't sell short what it is that you've learned so far. If I've given you the impression that this technique could only be used to write fables and very simple anecdotes, No, it's actually not true. I would ask you to take a look at some of the other readings that I've put in your student resource is there. For instance, you'll find a story entitled War of the Clowns. It was published in The Massachusetts Review, and it's someone enigmatic the story of a pair of clowns that move into a city and end up through their violent actions, destroying the city before they pack up and leave, only to do it again at another place. I'll leave to you to figure out what the moral of the story is, but I just want to point out that this story, which was published in a literary review, is constructed exactly like the Thurber story we have a problem set up in the beginning. We have several scenes, one after the other, very short little scenes that developed the idea until we finally come to the resolution at the end. Another story that really pushes the boundary of this format is emergency. By Dennis Johnson Dennis Johnson famously wrote a book called Jesus Son about the lives of heroin users, and they're confused adventures again. A closer look would reveal a series of scenes, each with its own little problem and each leading us on to the next scene until we get to the end. The meanings or the problems presented in this joints and stories are always somewhat abstract and confused, reflecting the confused state of the characters as they struggled with their existential dilemmas about how to make a life in their crazy, drug fueled world. One thing I would point out with the joints and story is that many of the scenes have extended dialogue in the conflict between the characters, which makes the scenes longer. There's also a few shorter pieces that you might want to take a look at. The Franz Kafka story is only two short scenes leading to that enigmatic line that the policeman gives him the Kafka s line, you might say, And if you go back and look at the anecdotes from Reader's Digest, you'll find that a number of the anecdotes actually are comprised of two or even three short scenes one after another. Take a look, for instance, at the anecdote entitled Blanket Statement, and you'll see that like the clock appease, it consists of two scenes. So this method of writing a short, short or a flash fiction piece is quite adaptable and can be used for anything from a fable like He stops table a Troll Children's story and had a good for Reader's Digest, a story for reminisce or even a literary story like you might publish in the Massachusetts Review. You could have a whole career just publishing this type of story. Of course, there is Mawr to writing fiction, and in my advanced fiction short story course, we're gonna talk about some other ways of developing your stories. But let us now have a recap of where we've been 14. Wrap Up: that's recap what we've learned in this course. We started out talking about the anecdote. An anecdote, of course, is a short, non fiction story, usually less than 100 words that re constant incident from somebody's life. And we looked at these small, non fiction stories to uncover their basic structure. And what we found is that each anecdote observed the classical unities of time, place and action. They take place at a particular time, a particular location, and they all revolve from beginning to end around. A problem that is introduced to one of the personages were characters in the story. We also talked a little bit about elements of a story and how you can see that even in an anecdote face. So, for instance, each anecdote has characters, a protagonist, the main character and an antagonised. Often that would be the main characters opponent. We have a problem of some sort that is introduced in what's called the inciting incident, the incident to get the story going, and we have some conflict as the character attempts to solve that problem until finally we come to a climax when the problem is solved and taken as a whole. We can see what the meaning of that incident was or what the theme is. Then we talked a little bit about the concept of fiction. Why do people read fiction? And I posited that people are attracted to fiction because it's a way of figuring out what's going on in the heads of other people. We're trapped in our own heads. We know that there are other people out there, but we don't know what they're thinking and why they're doing what they're doing. Fiction is a way of addressing that, and we saw that an anecdote is the same thing as a scene. Although a scene is fictional, a fictional scene also has unity of time, place in action. It also has people. It also has conflict. It also has dialogue. It also has a problem that the protagonist is attempting to solve. We next took a look at the Thurber story, A unicorn in the garden. This obviously is a work of fiction. No unicorns in real life. But as we looked at it closely, we saw that actually consisted of a series of short scenes. Each scene is constructed exactly like the anecdotes that we're studying, and we were able to identify again and main character. The husband, a antagonised, the wife, a problem getting the life to acknowledge the unicorn in the garden and a resolution, the wife being carted away by the psychiatrist and the police and the husband living happily ever after. We used the structure of this Thurber story to actually understand how we could go about writing a story of our own. We could construct the story out of a series of small scenes similar to anecdotes, and we could start by presenting a problem in the opening scene and resolving that problem in the final scene. And lastly, we talked a little bit about where you could go with this technique. Of course, there are many other things to learn about fiction writing. But even just using what we've learned in this course, you are able to write flash fiction short, short stories that are publishable at many places. Many magazines, many websites. So you have a ready market for your fiction, and we did actually also touch upon the idea of where and how you could get some of your work. For this course published that concludes, Our course, I trust that you've gotten something useful out of it, and I wish you success with stories that you've written, and I wish that you will write many more of those stories and entertain and surprise us. If you liked what you learned in this course, please check in with us again to see some of our further courses on writing. Fiction particularly of interest to you, will be the advanced short story course where we talk about how to expand on some of the techniques we've already learned. Of course, you can always follow us on Facebook and on Twitter. You can visit our YouTube page at our website and you'll find all the U RL's there. And don't forget to add your name to our mailing list. Thanks so much for letting me be your instructor. I'm wishing you the best of luck in your writing career and keep moving that pan across the page.