I have a New Study Guide

I’ve been toying with the idea a of writing some short stories. I have an idea of what a novel takes. My micro fiction seemed to work well, but something about the length of a short story is eluding me. How many disasters should I include? How much to slice off at each end? That sort of thing. So I got a study guide…

…Imagine yourself as a writer. Your stories are good, but the rejection letters keep piling up. You finally decide to self publish, but you’re late to the event. You need to buy cover art and figure out how to promote your works.

It’s a solitary process, just you and your imaginary friends. So you start a blog. You meet a few kindred spirits along the way and they really help. But your imaginary friends demand time too. One day you decide to park your imaginary friends at a wonderful place you call the Writing Cabin.

My friend, you’ve just entered…

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I think Rod Serling could teach a guy a thing or two about short stories; particularly the kind of stories I write. It was this or Love American Style, which was also good in its own way.

If you need me, I’ll be binge watching about five years worth of vintage television.

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28 Comments

Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes, Writing

28 responses to “I have a New Study Guide

  1. That’s an amazing research method. Have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I have been watching The Twilight Zone on Netflix on an occasional basis. We started from the beginning. I agree there are some great stories!

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  3. Great post… love the TZ, btw! I look forward to your short stories… can’t think of anyone who could write better ones!

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  4. Rod once said of his “Twilight Zone” output that her felt one third of his stories were great, one third were good, and one third were crap. Rod also used to record his scripts onto a dictation machine and then have them typed up while he worked on another script. It was one of the reasons he could work so fast.

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    • That’s pretty interesting. I always assumed they were a team event in later years.

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      • “The Twilight Zone Companion” is a great book to have, and it shows you a bit of what went on in the backgrounds of the shows. It showed that in the last year the TZ was on, Rod had pretty much gotten tired of everything and he’d produce these long scripts. It stated that they used to cut half of them out and that’s what ended up on the screen.

        Also, Earl Hamner, Jr. wrote a number of scripts for the TZ, and it stated in the book that he really hated working in Hollywood, and that was one of the reasons his non-rural characters in the stories tended to be completely immoral and selfish.

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      • Interesting. Today, with the Internet, he could have contributed from anywhere.

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  5. Twlight Zone? Interesting! One bit of advice I heard early on was to read the type of material you’re interested in writing, and study what works or doesn’t. So if you have a goal to write short SF, check out SF magazines from the library and see what clicks. Read lots of different material within the genre, anthologies, etc.

    So to take your Twilight Zone example, you can surely learn some twisty urban fantasy/horror from that show, but also mix in other urban fantasy/horror to broaden your view. So also check out X Files, Buffy, Charmed, Warehouse 13, perhaps Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, etc. If you’re drawn more toward sf adventures, then various Star Treks, Firefly, Eureka, Dr. Who… You get the idea.

    Remember, however, that TV pacing and short story pacing may not be quite the same, so do check out a few magazines and anthologies for written short sf/fantasy. Bear in mind also that Twilight Zone is vintage TV and current shows aren’t written the same way. That’s why you need to keep up with current resources.

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    • Those are all valid points. It took me a long time to get out of media res. I still slip on occasion.

      So far they seem to have certain beats. Start with character and hook, move to something strange that is mildly amusing, move to the same thing in deadly earnest. Close it all up with a twist.

      It seems like the whole story changes at the twist. Like Serling must have asked, “what if,” for days at that point.

      It is different to my mind than other plotting methods. It’s faster and contains much less fluff.

      I used to read the magazines. Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, etc. I also watched all those shows. Still irritated that Warehouse 13 ended.

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  6. Ha! That same cover was used for my high school yearbook. Am I dating myself now? Craig, this is a great idea! Good luck with it. You’ll do great.

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  7. Great idea! Did they help? Are you inspired? Your short fiction is great. I’m so glad you are considering producing a book of shorts. ( of the literary variety, not fabric variety) 😀

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  8. You’ll do great, I’ve got proof in my inbox. 😉

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  9. Ah, one of my top ten favorite shows of all time! And when you finish those, you might want t pick up the 80s version and the 2000s version (all different stories). How many have you watched yet? Which are your favorite episodes? Mine are “A Stop at Willoughby”, “Time Enough at Last”, and “To Serve Man”. Also, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up” and “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” are right up there, too. (Stop me now. I can go on like this all night!)

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  10. Loved the Twilight Zone and later devoured Night Gallery. Mr. Serling was such a genius. Short stories are often a challenge for me, too. I used to write a lot of them then fell out of the habit. This year I released a novella I indie pubbed myself, even designed the cover and Kindle formatting. At least now I know it’s doable.

    Cheering you on!

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