Episode 88: Let's Call This What It Is: Literary Short Story Critique


In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique “Let’s Call This What It Is,” a literary short story by David Austin. They discuss plot- and character-driven stories (and the need for both elements), experimenting with the opening of your story and where to start it, brand names, and reviewing your year.

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Show Notes

The truth though is that it just doesn’t matter what kind of “What if?” you dream of exploring. The best “plot driven” Stories have compelling protagonists who chase subconscious internal objects of desire while they are also trying to get the President of the United States out of the U.N. before the tidal wave hits. And “character driven” Stories also require compelling quests for conscious external objects of desire, remission from cancer for example, while the lead character struggles with deep subconscious internal objects of desire like the need to attain some kind of meaningfulness before death.
— Shawn Coyne


Here is a great post from Now Novel with a list of tips that genre or commercial writers can learn from literary writers.

In this post, Nathan Bransford weighs in on what defines literary fiction.


Editorial Mission—Always Learning

It’s easy to keep reading the same type of books, same genres. We can learn a lot from stepping outside our reading comfort zone, however. Innovation is a key, but it’s also gives you a different context to notice different techniques and aspects of story. 

Find a book from a genre you don’t write in and ordinarily don’t read—then read it. You might look for a book that is representative of the genre or an that is a crossover in that it fits squarely within genre fiction but is considered to have literary qualities (for example, books by Ursula K. Le Guin, P.D. James, Colson Whitehead, Orson Scott Card—wild card: listen to the Serial podcast). After you’ve read (or listened to) to your selection, think about what you liked and didn’t and why. Look at what worked and didn’t. Consider what you can learn and apply in your own writing. 

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Inline Critique