1. Eric242
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    Eric242 Member

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    Writing complete stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eric242, May 4, 2013.

    Hello everyone. So I have an issue with short stories... I have been reading over some of the stories posted here on the forums, and I feel like a number of them are not stories. They are just scenes. I found that when I finished reading them I may have been entertained, but I was ultimately left unsatisfied (NOTE: Not all, mind you. I have read many lovely stories here. :love:). This got me wondering, what was it that they were missing? And to be honest the answer was not, and is not, immediately obvious to me.

    I decided that the main thing that makes a story complete is that it has meaning. A good story is more than just a series of events. That may be how a story is told, but that's not all it is. You have to learn something from it. I found that a lot of the 'scenes' I mentioned were lacking this bigger picture.

    I thought I would search around and found this little tidbit about complete stories that I found interesting. If you are curious: http://narrativefirst.com/articles/writing-complete-stories

    So, I wanted to open the floor to you guys. What do you think makes a story 'complete'?
     
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  2. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    What you're describing to are 'slice of life' stories which are a form of short story.

    As explained by wikipedia...

    The literary term refers to a storytelling technique that presents a seemingly arbitrary sample of a character's life, which often lacks a coherent plot, conflict, or ending. The story may have little plot progress and little character development, and often has no exposition, conflict, or dénouement, with an open ending.

    Cheers. :)
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Some people only post excerpts of the story they're working on. So that might explain it.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of the pieces that I've submitted are vignettes/slices/fragments/whatever-I'm-calling-them-that-day. I don't call them stories, but they're not novels, so I put them in the story section. I'd guess that the same is true for a lot of people.

    Not that your question isn't interesting; I just wanted to comment on the phenomenon that made you start to wonder.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The only work of my own I've posted here is merely the beginning of a story. It's called "The Compass." I only posted the first 700 or so words of a 4500 word story because I didn't think anybody would read a 4500 word story and critique it. Besides, 700 words ought to be enough, in that case (I thought), to give critiquers something to work on and for me to benefit from their critiques.

    I will never post a complete story here, because I have hopes that my work might one day be published professionally. I will only post excerpts. I believe many others here feel the same.
     
  6. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    Fiction is different than a movie, particularly a short story. There's not enough time for the character development that you have in a movie and, of course, a novel. Still, there's no reason why you can't have well rounded characters. The short stories I write usually have only three or four characters in them, sometimes only two. I usually like to give the main character a problem and then provide other characters or circumstance to hinder the solving of that problem. In my best stories, the conflicts arise from the individual characters' motivations and the resolution of the conflicts and the climax of the story have significance beyond the solution to the main problem. I rarely start with a theme in mind, but one usually comes up by the end of the story. So, I think a complete short story should be simple in the presentation of the goals of the characters but complex in the manner in which they succeed or fail.

    Keep in mind that I write popular fiction as I'm sure that writers of literary fiction would have a different take on this.
     
  7. Eric242
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    Eric242 Member

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    I think these pretty much sum up why stuff feels so incomplete. But I am still curious about your thoughts on what does make a story complete!

    That's a good take Jeepea.
     
  8. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I think it can be reduced down to character. The "big picture," or plot is only really interesting because of how it affects all the characters, but mostly the main character. The "opposition" or antagonist is only interesting because of how it affects the characters. The "relationship" is only interesting because of how it affects the characters.

    Start with strong characters, and everything else will fall into place.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    posters are advised to never post a complete story they wish to see published some day... to only post brief excerpts... this may be why you are finding so many that seem 'incomplete'... because they are...
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Some of my short stories can clock out at between 20-30 pages long. Too long to post them in their entirety. And with only a few pages
    of a longer story, there's no chance of seeing character growth, changes, even deeper ideas behind the action.

    And though I get what you mean, deep and meaningful short stories I'm not a fan of finding them superior to anything action-fueled
    and fun. Why should I? Critics may sniff their nose at sci-fi and fantasy but come on - I get so tired of the cliched thinking of whats
    'superior' it reminds me of the Oscars - Sean Penn cries - give him an Oscar for being sensitive, plucky whores /tramps / etc- Oscar,
    accents, disabilities an Oscar. Ditto for literature - give us some angsty characters pondering a loss or the meaning of life it's
    suddenly distinguished.

    Don't get me wrong - I love, love reading powerful stories I just don't necessarily think that are superior in whole - only in idea.
     
  11. Eric242
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    Eric242 Member

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    I don't think people sniff their nose at sci-fi and fantasy. Sci-fi tends to be very philosophical... And I'm totally fine with something action-packed, but I still think it has to have a point.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wow, that guy who wrote the article is so sexist.

    What? So women have lower standards and will be perfectly happy to put up with something that doesn't make sense whereas "Oh you can't fool the men!" The implication is offensive to say the least.

    And what is the writer on about?

    Has the guy SEEN Coraline!!? He's actually trying to tell me Finding Nemo is more complex and meaningful than Coraline? What does he mean, Coraline simply "got by" since it's apparently an incomplete movie? Got by? Coraline was nominated for and won numerous awards, including BAFTA, Academy Award and Golden Globes.

    Either the guy is speaking nonsense, or he's actually rather dull, or he hasn't seen the film. Coraline, besides, is not "beautiful" - it's positively frightening. Excellently made, and terrifying, with the ideas of home, contentment, rebellion, spirits/afterlife and pursuit of happiness as just a few of the key themes, put in a far more imaginative way than many Pixar movies.

    The only Pixar movie I'd actually say is meaningful and complex is Up. Now Up was excellent and surprisingly moving and deep.
     
  13. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I should really have read the complete article rather than skimmed it. The author loses all credibility with his comment about a 'sense that a story makes sense' for male readers\viewers.

    Coraline really is terrifying. My 5-year old wants to see it because a friend of hers has and I won't let her.
     

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