1. Baller Dale
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    Baller Dale Member

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    The importance of HOW in a short story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Baller Dale, Mar 16, 2012.

    I'm writing a short story (about 3,000 words) about a bank robbery and I'm considering NOT explaining HOW they actually rob the bank. So for instance, it begins with them fleeing the bank and the crux of the story is the escape. Will the reader be annoyed because they don't know HOW they robbed the bank? Is including the description of the actual robbery imperative?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope. The only possible caveat to that is if there were some detail of the robbery which upped the stakes for their capture - was it armed robbery, was someone injured or killed, that type of thing. And those details could, of course, be included without other details of the robbery. Otherwise, as a reader, I would only care about the fact that a robbery had taken place.
     
  3. doghouse
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    doghouse Member

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    It's your story, write it how you want. 'Tis that simple.

    There are elements that make up a good short story, as long as they are addressed, then all good.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think so. If the story is about the escape, then the actual robbery isn't really part of it. When you're writing a short story, you have to focus on what's relevant - there's no room for anything else.

    I keep thinking of stories like Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." The narrator is taking revenge on a man named Fortunato, but it's never clearly explained why. In the first lines, the narrator claims Fortunato insulted him, but the insult isn't specified or dramatized. We only see the revenge. Obviously Poe, who was one of the great early masters of the short story form, didn't think the insult was important. He just focused on what he thought was important - the revenge story he wanted to tell.
     
  5. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    The way you describe it sounds great. The reader will fill in the gaps with what they picture the robbery should have looked. Trust your reader to do this. And they way you have it, it sounds like the story starts off in the middle of some great action. I'd be interested to read it.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of the above...
     
  7. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    Running from the police sounds just as exciting as the actual robbery. Perhaps more exciting, in fact. I think it's fine.
     
  8. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    You don't need to show the robbery or describe how it was done; that doesn't sound like the point of your story. You are concerned with the aftermath. Start there and don't look back.
     
  9. Shpob
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    Shpob New Member

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    Minstrel is absolutely right. In a short story, there's no room for a lot of things.
    In fact, I've heard the opinion that "A short story is like a novel, but with all the boring bits taken out".
    You need to define a single focus to the story. Perhaps it's the MC's worry that they'll get caught. Perhaps it's the chaos of the robbery escape.
    It might be necessary to make a quick defining mention of what happened during the robbery, but it may not be. In any case, no: reader's won't be put off if you don't explain the robbery in detail any more than if you leave out details on the robber's dog back home. It's just not important if it's not the focus of the story.
     

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