How I Write a Short Story, Part IV

To review:  

I have these elements…a time frame (St. Patrick’s Day), interesting factoids (people actually DO make their own luck to some extent), a conflict (Clancy hates St. Patrick’s Day), and a mystery (why? because it’s the day her husband left her). 

I need some activities (Kiki’s crafts–I’ll have to come up with these), and a resolution (I’ll think of something).

I also have a cute sidebar problem. Anya loves animals and when she hears that Laurel owns a rabbit’s foot, she goes nuts! (Or course, it’s a fake rabbit’s foot, but Anya doesn’t know that.) 

What else do I need? Well, I need a snappy opening line. Something that sets the stage for my story. It should foreshadow problems, entice my readers, and get the ball rolling.

Now, back to the resolution. I’ll need a BIG ending. Remember, I’ve been thinking a lot about Clancy, and I have a surprise in store for her. To me, a BIG ending would mean a change of luck for Clancy. 

Okay, I’ve got all my ducks in a row! Again, here’s my list for preplanning a short story:

* time frame — often concurrent with a holiday
* interesting factoids — research
* a conflict or problem to be solved
* a mystery or a secret
* a sidebar perhaps, or a link back to an earlier Kiki story or book
* activities 
* a resolution

And of course, I already have my cast of characters because it’s a Kiki Lowenstein short story. Tune in tomorrow, and I’ll get the story started.

How I Write a Short Story, Part III

So Barb H. had a wonderful idea, “Perhaps St Patrick’s day has always been unlucky for Clancy because that is when her father died or her husband left her or she lost a child. I am getting all these crazy ideas and am probably off base. I will be anxious to hear what you say!”

Barb thinks like I do!

So now I have these elements…a time frame (St. Patrick’s Day), interesting factoids (people actually DO make their own luck to some extent), a conflict (Clancy hates St. Patrick’s Day), and a mystery (why? because it’s the day her husband left her).

I need some activities (Kiki’s crafts–I’ll have to come up with these), and a resolution (I’ll think of something).

I also need to look back over Kiki’s world and think about possible ways to tie this story into Kiki’s life. One idea comes immediately to mind. In Handmade, Holiday, Homicide, we learn that Laurel has a lucky rabbit’s foot–but it’s fake fur. We know that Anya loves animals. She would be appalled to hear that Laurel has a rabbit’s foot, especially if she didn’t know it was fake! So somehow, I’d like to weave that into my story.

We’re almost at the end of the planning stage…except that I’d been thinking about Clancy, a lot, and I had surprise in store for her and her life. Keep reading to see what that is!

 

Kiki Lowenstein and the Life Stories, Part !

By Joanna Campbell Slan
As
the owner of Time in a Bottle, a scrapbook and craft store in St. Louis, I
teach a lot of classes. Sure, it might make sense to delegate them, but
teaching is one of my favorite activities. Besides the joy of putting together
the projects, I learn so much about my customers, their lives, their hopes and
dreams. Usually, I come away from a class feeling inspired.

Now
there are those who say the lives of “ordinary” women are boring. None of us
have super-powers. Most of us don’t run huge companies. Very few of us make
world-shaking decisions. But ordinary women bring new life into this world.
Once a child has arrived, we nurture that life and the lives of everyone we
come into contact with. And very often, we are there to see death when it comes
to claim our friends and family members. Tell me, what’s more important than
all that?

Nothing.
Because life is all that matters. In the end, we hope that we’ve lived a
journey worth celebrating. Scrapbooks do just that. They celebrate our lives,
committing our stories to paper so we can pass them along to the next
generation.

That’s
exactly what I told my eight students on that blustery day in January. “Welcome
to

How I Write Short Stories–Part I

I get a lot of questions about how I write short stories, so I thought I’d take you through my process, step-by-step. Just so you know, I don’t consider myself an expert. There are probably a million ways to approach a project like this. But perhaps walking through it with me will be interesting to some of you. I’m going to concentrate on how I write the Kiki Lowenstein Short Stories because I’d done so many of them.

Part I — What’s the point? Or what’s the theme? What’s my goal?

I like to have a purpose behind my stories. An idea or theme or goal. I think of this like the pole of a Maypole because it provides the structure for all that follows. I like to use holidays when writing the Kiki short stories. That works pretty well, because the holiday provides a natural launch date. Holidays give me an easy way to market my stories. And of course each holiday also has its own rituals, foods, celebratory activities, colors, and so on. These elements provide natural points of interest for the story.

I’ve decided that I want to write a story about St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been noodling that idea around, and I’ve been wondering, “What makes people lucky?”

With that in mind, I googled, “What makes people lucky?” and found several fascinating articles:

http://www.rd.com/advice/how-to-get-lucky

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-miglani/making-your-own-luck_b_3988785.html

As you can see, Mr. Wiseman has identified four principles that define “lucky” people:


1. Taking advantage of chance opportunities.

2. Listening to hunches.

3. Expect good fortune.

4. Turn bad luck into good luck.

So now I have four new ideas that I can incorporate into my story. Any one of these or all of them might be useful.

I can move onto the next portion of my prep, creating conflict. To make a short story work, I need to create friction among my characters.

Any ideas on how I can do that?

Part 4–The Conclusion of Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher

By Joanna Campbell Slan
Editor’s Note: In Parts 1, 2, and 3,
Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session
class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers brought in one of their
favorite dessert recipes to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There’s a
bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim
to make an outstanding red velvet cake

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher (Part 3)

By Joanna Campbell Slan


Editor’s Note: In Parts 1 and 2, Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers brought in one of their favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There’s a bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet cake