If you’ve ever wanted to take that Master’s course in creative short fiction writing, I recommend none higher than DeMarinis’ The Art and Craft of the Short Story. This is no short book with quick, easy clichés to get you writing better. On the contrary, you will learn the anatomy of the short story and how to tell the difference between a good one and bad one.
What makes this book so good?
It is straight to the point with explanations of the tools of creative writing.
Lots of exercises.
Examples of amazing short stories written and published.
As someone who loves reading poetry and short stories, I had to pick this one up. I needed a book from an expert who will not only tell, but show me what good writing looks like.
DeMarinis breaks down beginnings, endings, plots, imagery, theme and more.
You realize he is speaking to you as a gentle instructor, showing you what you already realize as a reader: that a story has to grab your attention from the get go.
Here is just a few of the sage advice you’ll find:
“If there is a thematic point in a story to be made, it would have to emerge organically-not forced”(pg.59) meaning as you are writing, you may not want to focus on theme, just tell the story. Readers will have their own thoughts on what the theme truly is.
The contemporary short story is mostly character driven.
Shifting points of view may bring the story into sharper focus.
Closing a short story is similar to closing a poem(really loved this topic!)
The weird yet glamorous world of meta-fiction writing.
I think the biggest take away from this book is the breakdown of stories. As DeMarinis puts it:
“In fiction, every sentence is innovation.”(pg. 135) Stories are made up of Narrative(voice that tells the story), narrative summary(moves story forward), and scenes(place characters on stage).
Seeing it condensed like that after reading his book, really nailed it.
On April 15th the year 2145 at 42 minutes past midnight, “The Event” happened.
Everyone became immortal…and sterile.
Dr. Vivian Toujours for 75 years, has been working on a cure for this strange disease. In a world where everything lives forever- except one organism(read to find out!), what is a scientist to do?
This story grabbed my mind and f#!&d with it. What’s even more cool, is the author even admits in her bio that she hopes to mess with our minds.
Good job, D.K.!
But seriously deep down, my psyche wanted a conclusion or some kind of sequel. I read this story as if I was there in the year 2145 and needing answers. For such a short work, the story highlights possible political and social scenarios- all plausible to me.
One question I need answered right now:
Can we please have a part 2 of some kind?
Just kidding! I know the power of the short and D.K.Cassidy wields it well!
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*Black Wings continues with a slightly longer conclusion. Thanks for reading!
Everything about her is so tiny, so fragile. Her lips are the perfect bow shape-tiny. Her fingers, long and slender-tiny nails. Her face, a small heart shape- tiny eyes the shape of almonds, with milk chocolate irises. Her hair floats behind her like a big cloud, her skin is the color of night without stars, but her small teeth are perfectly white, glitters in her face. And she does not know she has my heart in a vise…
Ricky was about to follow Cara out into the storm when several hands grabbed at him. “You’re going to be crowned the king! Come on!” Several girls pulled on his arm. They were cute girls. Trim girls. Wore the same makeup girls. Plastic girls. Not really mean, just cookie cutter in order to make it.
“I have to find Cara.”
“Who?” asked one them in a huff. “Stop playing around. If Trish sees you out here trying to find another girl, she will dethrone you so quick.” The girl with dark hair snapped her fingers for emphasis.
Ricky pulled away from her. “She and I aren’t dating. We just…I don’t know.” He shook himself. “I gotta go.”
“During prom?” The girls screeched. “This is important, Ricky! Stop playing around!” The blonde one wearing a beautiful sequined dress.
Something tugged at his heart. It was beginning to ache. Cara was out there, probably trying to do something stupid. Here he was arguing about being “king”.
In a split second decision, he decided to go look for Cara. She couldn’t have gone far.
Sprinting across to the EXIT, with several swear words following behind him, he burst through the double doors, still smelling the Sweet Pea lotion Cara wears but the wind and the rain were brutal. The scent was quickly sliced.
Rain came down like small swords. Sluicing and wetting up everything. It sounded like rocks being thrown outside.
He did not care.
Where did she go in this night?
A bright yellow dress shouldn’t be hard to miss.
He crossed the intersection where cars were backed up, horns honked in frustration and the freaking streetlight that never gets fixed, remained on red for a while.
Then he saw the hair, like wings flapping behind her. The yellow dress clinging to her tiny body as her small feet kicked up mud and puddle water.
Without thinking, Ricky chased her. He’ll be damned if…if he see this. Witness this.
Within a few steps he caught up to her. Instead of touching her he raced ahead of her and stopped, turned to face her,causing her to bump into his chest.
“What are you doing?”
“You tell me. What are you thinking running out into the dark like this?”
“I can if I want.” Her lips were wet with kisses from the rain and her small eyes, cat-like eyes he now realized, looked at him with iron anger. “What? Afraid I’ll catch a cold?”
“That and the fact that this part of town is dangerous.”
“So?” Ricky wanted to hug her so bad. Let her know it was alright to be different and that some people were just anus holes. She was the darkest girl in the school but the prettiest. The girls and guys knew that too and would admit it if they weren’t chicken.
“I can’t just let this happen.”
Cara crossed her arms over her, defiant. “I don’t get it. You are the most popular boy in the school about to be crowned. For your beauty. Your talent. They are probably waiting for you right now. You are out here, chasing me. You sure you aren’t on any drugs?”
Ricky laughed. “I am not on drugs and to hell with prom crowning. They can have it.”
“I gotta go,” Cara said resolved, turning from him.
But Ricky couldn’t let her leave. Not like this. Not right now.
“Cara listen to me! I think you are very beautiful! I- I think you are the sweetest girl I’ve ever known and smart too.”
Cara kept walking away but this time he caught up to her, gently pulled her elbow to turn her around and face him. “You don’t have to do what you are trying to do.”
“What is it I am trying to do?”
They both stood there, rain beating their faces and bodies. The wind whipped harder but Ricky put less distance between them, placed his hands on her shoulders. Her scent sweet and bright, like her dress, like her eyes.
“I watched my mom do it. Said she was going to the bathroom and will be right out. Dad and I waited half an hour. Silence, Cara. Silence! Mom never came out. All I remember…” Ricky was glad for the rain to mask his tears. “All I remember was her dark hair disappearing in the bathroom door, a piece of it caught in the doorjamb, but she didn’t know or care. Then the sound of something falling. Life was too much for her. So instead of thinking of me and dad, she thought about herself. Focused inward so much, we became, maybe caricatures to her. Expendables. Our hearts still beating, bleeding for her and we know she’ll never come back.”
Cara was silent. Listening to Ricky was a mistake.
“My essay, Black Wings? From earlier this week was about her, Cara. When I was ten that was all I
remember. Her dark hair, flapping behind her like black wings and disappearing behind a freaking bathroom door. Only to lose her moments later. She flew away from me and dad. I wish I could tell her she was good enough. Better than enough. I wish I could bring her back.” He swiped at his eyes. “She basically killed our soul, Cara. That is what suicide does to those who love you.”
The cars zoomed past them. All it would take is one toe out in the street. A quick dart out and then finally she can be away from this dark world. Maybe in her next life she’ll be light and pretty.
His eyes got to her though. Those kind green eyes held a special sadness. A permanent sadness his mother put there.
“Sorry about that, Ricky.”
Suddenly the rain slowed and Ricky put even less distance between them, his hands slid slowly down Cara’s arm, his forehead touched hers. “I will not let the next person I care about, do the same thing. I don’t like people leaving me, Cara.”
Cara looked up into Ricky’s face. This was wrong. Very wrong.
“You have another life Ricky. Go back to that school!”
“No!” He hissed to her lips. “I am not leaving you out here. We go together to the school or we stay together here. I will not lose anyone else!”
“Please. Let me do this. I know I will be free if I can do this. The one thing I can do right.”
“No.” He tipped her chin up so her eyes could meet his. “I want to tell you something, I’ve been trying to say all year. I couldn’t write it in the card but-”
“Yes,” he smiled and finally ran his hand through her thick, kinky hair. “The cards you’ve been given.”
“You put them cards in my locker?” Her eyes narrowed at him.
“I slip them in there from time to time.”
“You write nothing on them though,” she chuckled. A small smile, a small feat achieved. Her smile literally broke through the storm. He could watch her smile and hear her laugh all day long.
“I am about to, just listen. Please.”
Cara rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t step away from Ricky’s strong touch. Their bodies were now pressed together as if they were two halves of a heart. As if they were lovers.
“Cara, you sit near me every day in English class and never look my way. I don’t think you notice me. You carry yourself around as if your skin is a heavy burden or bricks to be laid down and you sag in your seat, absorbing class material like a computer. Your eyes are never trained on me, the teacher or class and I find myself wondering: Who is this girl that no one matters to her? She walks alone to class and from class. Her head is down sometimes and most days it is up, not in snotty manner but as if she is a Queen and aspires to be so. I could only hope to be the lucky guy on her arm.
I know you feel like an ugly duckling and that the world does not look at you or admire you. But I will let you in on a small secret. When you are not looking, it is your scent that makes a few of us guys sniff the room. It is your smile that causes a small gossip to erupt amongst the jocks, the secret longings of their hearts exposed in closed locker rooms. The girls sometimes look your way and the next day they upgrade their hair and makeup. One girl in particular tried to befriend you the other day in the cafeteria, she heard that you like Star Wars. Instead you nodded politely and went back to eating, regal as can be because who would really want to talk to you?
Everyone, Cara. Everyone wants to talk to you including me. But I want more. I want more than your talk, I want your lips on mine. I want more than for you just to see me, I want you to gaze at me. I want more than just a handshake from you,” he trailed his hand down her arm to her hand. “I want a hug.”
Cara was speechless.
Before she could say anything, Ricky put his lips on hers, startling her. He kissed her with the feather light touch of a painter’s brush, or the kiss of sun after a stormy, rainy day. A hint of heat and softness.
Ricky knew this wasn’t enough to stop someone from disappearing. What if one day Cara was no longer enough for him? Will she pick up where they left off? Somehow, he knew she’d be in his life forever. She was a treasure to him. Confessing his heart was all he could do. To save her.
**Author note: I truly hope you enjoyed this story. It dropped in my mind one day as I was waking up. I thought, “Hmmm, what if a girl who felt un-pretty met a very beautiful boy who sent her blank greeting cards?”
***This story involves a sensitive issue that some people may face and does not in any way make light of the situation. The goal is to enjoy the story and think on it. Ultimately I hope you enjoy it, Reader!
Once again her tears were real. She dropped her black purse her mom gave her and slammed herself against the locker before sliding down to the cool floor. Not caring if her legs were splayed open beneath her sun yellow dress and not caring that her new upswept hairdo was now smashed against the locker. Who cares.
The music pumped from the gym out to the hallway. The person handling the tickets behind the foldable table was now folding it up and collecting her things. She did not see Cara.
Who ever sees Cara?
With her nails she drew long marks along obsidian skin. There. White streaks. Now if only she could see the white meat. If only she had something to flay that dark meat open.
Shaking her head and covering her face, she bawled. Right there on the floor.
Music drifted to her. Something by…? Who knows. It sounded like racket now.
But she knew everyone wore a smile and had a date. She could only dream of a date. That was why she read sappy teen novels. The closest she’s ever been to a guy was between the pages and not the sheets.
“To hell with everyone!” She yelled, then picked up her purse. She will leave.
She will leave. Why stay somewhere she can’t even leave a mark?
“Wait,” she heard someone say as she walked along the wall, hung on the wall for support as she slowly, cryptically made her way to the EXIT. Why was she moving so slothful? Didn’t freedom await her?
She kept moving. Whoever it was should leave her alone. She was finally leaving this forsaken place.
School was not for dark girls.
Why’d her mother move anyway? Because of a divorce? Who cares?
The stranger touched her elbow. “You left this.”
Cara slowly let her eyes take in her long, teal jacket. Made for Spring weather or impending rain.
She heard the quick pellets of rain hitting the rooftop.
“Don’t need it,” her eyes followed the tanned arm and she looked into kind green eyes. “I’m leaving.”
His lips smiled. “Of course but you need this. Don’t you?”
For what she was about to do, it did not matter. “No.” She bit her lower lip hard until she tasted blood. She sucked on it and kept moving.
Her hands touched the rusted handle of the door. The handle the janitor kept polishing anyway, so now some parts not flecked off shone brilliantly under the fluorescent lights while the reddish brown part created an ugly contrast.
“I just thought you might not want to catch a cold.”
Cara thought about her purse. No need for this either. Her ID, keys all of that. She whirled around and fled to her locker, quickly twisted the dial and popped it open. A few blank greeting cards flew out and landed by the guy’s feet.
“You have plenty of greeting cards. Planning on writing them all out later?” She stashed her purse into the locker and looked at the stranger closer. He was in her English class. He opened a card and smiled again. A small dimple formed in his right cheek. A deep, dimple.
“No. I found those. You can have ‘em.”
The boy blinked as she took her jacket from him. “Thanks.”
“I just have to know, Cara. Why aren’t you dancing?”
Was he for real?
“The glitter, the lights and the girls…not for me.”
“Yeah,” he stepped closer to her but she took two steps back. “I saw them. So what?”
“That’s my point. This is my senior year!” Her eyes watered. “I can’t even get a partner to dance with me because my skin swallows light. It isn’t fair!”
Understanding seemed to dawn on him. “Patty and Rochelle have no dance partner. They look nice. But not as nice as-”
Cara held up her hand. Ricky smelled the Sweet Pea lotion on her and it was the same scent that wafted into the gym doors earlier. The same bright fragrance from English class in the morning. It reminded him of sweet flowers facing the sun and days of learning to ride his bike. His mother…
“I hate this school anyway. It’s prejudice leaks through the walls. Smell it?”
She huffed and marched away from Ricky and flew open the doors letting in a powerful gust of wind and rain.
Her hair, no longer pinned, cascaded down and flapped about her like black wings.
There is no way this guy was going to be bring her back.
Back from the will to die.
Note from author: I hope you enjoyed this short piece. Stay tuned for the next part sometime this week! If you like the stuff, please share and subscribe to my blog! (You may have to scroll down to subscribe)
Twelve days and eleven nights has gone by and the house have been eerily silent. Sarah blew out one more scented candle before going upstairs.
She purposely closes her eyes so she can avoid pictures frames of him and her together on their wedding night. Birthdays. Vacations. His handsome broad smile and always perfectly white teeth. All frames in neat order along the wall as she ascends to bed.
Smiles, laughter, lovemaking-
Are no more.
Twelve days since the eulogy she couldn’t finish. Twelve days since the burial and then the repast at this home.
And now she was alone.
They were supposed to make it past their fifties, yet cancer killed the dream, causing her strapping, strong husband to become a skeletal frame from a horror film and riddled with pain before taking his final breath.
And tonight will be another lonely one as she sits up with the television on in the dark, her bible laid across her lap.
“Jesus. There has to be an afterlife. I miss him so much,” she hugs the good book to her chest and cries harder.
Crickets begin their music and it drowns out the television. The stars were in the millions tonight and they were little bulbs of beautiful fires. The creaks and moans of her home grew worse tonight but she’ll get used to it.
Finally lying her bible down. She gets out of bed, throw on her silk, white robe she wore on her honey moon and walk over to the large patio doors and open them to look down into the darkened backyard, now lit with the millions of lights.
A soft breeze caresses her cheeks and hair like a lover’s touch.
“There is no such thing as heaven or hell. Loneliness is what I got for loving you.” She hugs her arms around herself, feeling slightly insane that the wind touching her cheeks and flicking her hair, felt too good and familiar.
Finally it swirled all around her, cool and warm all at once.
Let me start by saying that Summer is truly here and I am thankful and prayerful that students are graduating and moving on in a forward direction in their lives.
With that being said, this blog will be graduating as well. Beginning with a few changes. The first change is the layout: quick, simple, and easier to navigate. Not many pages at all. There is no “home ” section because you are home. Any new information, book reviews, etc. will be a main post.
Secondly, two new pages have been added. Lit Street and Ya Book Review List. These pages are under construction but let me tell you briefly about them. Lit Street will focus on helping students(of all ages) to read and understand poetry and short fiction, and I will also encourage you in your writing as well. The YA Book Review List was created because of the storm of teens reading books and I thought I’d provide a list of what I have read based on subject matter.
No, this is not strictly a teen site. It is still a general writing blog, a writing forum where we can all connect during our writing adventure. If you look to the right panel, there is a little about me and some links you can click. So, no “About Me” page is necessary.
I hope you find The Write Web to be unique, simplistic but still quite helpful. Soon, it will be even more helpful when I can round up publishing adventures in one area to share with you as well!
There once was a beautiful woman named Yeres, who was comfortable in the confines of her castle. Men came from all over the country, nearly the world to lay with her because the saying went: “She elicited unknown pleasures from men without producing a child thus protecting him from the wrath of his wife and his wallet. Yeres took a fellow to bed each night. Each night a different man whether of the religious cloth, a governor, prince or king, sometimes even paupers.
She began to tire of these fruitless nights.
She wanted a child.
She would think about how her mother prayed to this unseen God and would pray to his faceless face and Yeres would laugh inside. “There is none but us mother,” she’ll say after her mother’s prayers.
But one day, after a gentle prodding from some feeling deep inside, Yeres went into the Night Temple and offered a prayer to the top of the dome. She could not dig to find tears. She was a hard woman.
The next night, Yeres went into the Night Temple and offered a prayer and a few more moments of worship. She did this for three successive nights. Nothing. She did not feel warm inside, instead, she felt even more alone than before.
She went to the witches, the soothsayers, the astrologers to give her some guidance and direction and they all told her the same thing: “Your womb is closed.”
One night, while everyone was asleep in the village, Yeres thought: “I don’t want to pray for a child if my womb is closed. This God has saw fit for me to remain in my boudoir. Pleasing men.”
She instead prayed for her long lost sister, whom she hadn’t seen in years. She prayed for her dying king, and she prayed that the rains would bring forth a good harvest this time.
After a few days, the townspeople noticed a gray storm appearing overhead and a great burst of cool, rain melted upon the earth. It is said that the king’s spirits rose great that day and a stranger- a woman who looked like Yeres came into town, with a small child in her arms.
Yeres met the woman and it was confirmed they were sisters. The child was sweet and warm. A little girl with a smile like sunshine. Yeres sister had not long to live but commissioned Yeres to care for her little girl once she left the Earth.