How To Construct A Short Story
On the following pages fellow Booksie author Ben A. Vanguarde has shared documents which show you how to construct a short story, easily, every time. These documents are the kind you never show anyone; they're not perfect and show inconsistencies. In fact, they're a mess but its how we really work.
As of this writing the second draft has begun but how to edit is covered in another article on this Booksie site. This story will be published when the final editing is complete.
Ben will tell the story from here:
by Ben A. Vanguarde
Where did the idea for SKANK come from?
Years ago I read the 1937 short story The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre. By today's standards the writing is too long and wordy but plot line is fairly simple. During the Spanish Civil War three rebels are captured and condemned to death. Daily they hear the firing squads and know that certain death awaits them. The protagonist rebel is offered his freedom if he reveals the location of their leader. He really doesn't know and gives up all hope. The day before his scheduled execution he tells the fascist colonel that their leader is hiding in the cemetery caretaker's hut, one of their hideouts. The next day he is not called out but hears the gunshots as usual. Later, the colonel tells him they killed the leader and he would not be shot. Simple? This simple story line can be adapted to any age, but I'd stay away from the Spanish Civil War, out of respect for Sartre.
Recently I watched the 1952 movie Kansas City Confidential, noting the police weapons and procedures, including interrogation. A delivery man is wrongfully accused of being involved in a bank robbery. The police realize they couldn't charge him so they follow him as he attempts to clear his name by solving the case.
I set my story in Pompano Beach, Florida. As a native of Fort Lauderdale and lifelong resident of South Florida, I am familiar with the area. Many people know or know of Fort Lauderdale but few know the city that borders to the north, so I can take liberties with my location.
To give a story depth and characters depth and humanity, authors often use sub-text or sub-stories. I needed a special relationship between Rahnberry and Cadence so that Rahnberry would not squeal about mistreating the prisoner. Combat will forge a solid friendship and trust. Okinawa was the last major land battle of WWII so I made Rahnberry an immature, teenage Marine.
Originally, I was just going to just capture the Manning brothers but with the subtext in, I needed a resolution and the gun battle provided an action scene the story lacked. Once that subtext was in, I adapted the same to Bonita Sanchez.
Originally, I was going to end the story with just Sanchez being released and her prior conviction expunged. But, if you've read my other stories, you know I like ending twists. So went back and added story line to make the reader and Cadence so smug and confident with his position. I think this third subtext gives the reader a sense that justice was served, imperfectly, all around.
I guess at this point the story is played out and I won't be changing it too much, just cleaning it up and making the reading more exciting. But stories do evolve as your write them so be open to changes in direction. And continue to look for opportunities to add conflict and stress to your protagonist. Your readers will thank you.
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Continue to Character Table and Story Summary
Continue to First Draft of SKANK