Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Ah-Ha Factor - Part Two

Yesterday I shared about the first phase of writing for an anthology—picking the right story.

But then you might have the greatest story known to mankind but unless you deliver it correctly—it will fall flat.

So you have your idea and now you start to write. I usually like to compose my ending before I go to all that work—also I like to think about the story’s appeal. That leads me to talk about what I call the “Ah-ha” factor.

Some of my stories that didn’t make it were not well written. Some were downright boring. But most lacked that perfect ending.

When I wrote for the Beach Lover's book—I wrote a story about beaches. But not just about beaches—there was also an underlying story. I wrote about a mother’s greatest fear—losing her child. I brought in that part as the story moved along building it in the middle of the story. But by the ending, I had to be sure the reader was not only satisfied but “got it.”

When I finish reading a short story—I want to read that final sentence and say “Yes!” or “Wow” and feel totally satisfied that the author gave me a great read. I want to nod my head and sit back and say “I understand. I've felt that too."

I call this my Ah-ha factor—giving a deeper meaning behind the story. Creating emotion. Not falling flat with the story. There has to be more behind the simple story you tell. You can’t just tell how you sang in the school play and thought it went well—you have to tell how you grew from a gangly insecure pimply faced teenager into a person who became confident to live her dreams.

Always try to shoot for a bigger meaning when telling your Chicken Soup story—but make it subtle—make it real--let the reader be the one to say—“Oh yeah, I know what she means.”


Janna Qualman said...

You're so good at passing this stuff along. Thanks, again!

And I'm so excited for today's plans for you. I'll send a little prayer along with those first 50!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

As always, awesome blog! Your blogs are so helpful. Keep up the great job you're doing!

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Great series of posts you've got going on here, Terri! Thanks!

Barbara said...

Love all the info. Thanks for sharing with us.

Kasie West said...

I really need to work on my short stories, so thanks for the advice. Some people just have a knack for it, like you obviously do. I do not. Here is what I do. I start to write the story, I keep writing and writing and writing, then I think to myself, wow this would make a great novel. Then I add it to my list of novels that I am going to write when I am done with my series. Yes, I need help. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Intriguing start, bang up finish...an unbeatable combo. Write on, anthology woman! ;)

Renee Collins said...

I know exactly what you mean. There are few things better then that feeling as you finish a terrific story. :)

AnooCre8ion said...

These are some great tips Terri. I love writing short stories, but I think I am too wordy, so it takes me a while to get to my point.

Thanks for being willing to share what you have learnt along the way.


Linda said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips, Terri. I find these so helpful.

P.S. I finally found a copy of Chicken Soup For The Soul: Empty Nesters! And the holiday comment to both of your stories if Christmas!