Transforming anecdotes into short stories

posted in: Writing Advice | 0

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I love this piece on “A Process of Revision” by Antonya Nelson for Tin House.

In it, Antonya walks readers through her process for transforming a personal anecdote into the spine of a short story. It feels like your own personal writing coach is gently coaxing you to add this detail and now this detail and now why not this detail. If you’re like me and find short stories intimidating, this is a great workshop-in-a-post on how to take a memory and transform it into a story.

It’s also a great illustration of how a story is built detail by detail. Draft one might be the bones, but draft two and three and four are the meat, the muscle, the features. Of course, very few of us write a first draft that is exactly the style and flow we need or intended. But Antonya’s advice has a certain amount of freedom to let yourself write this component first. Then add that component. Then that element. It’s a forgiving way of writing, which some of us need!

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