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"Let's Write a Short Story!" by Joe Bunting [Thoughts On]

"Let's Write a Short Story!" cover.
Heh. A comma.
Joe Bunting's upcoming ebook on short story writing says that its contents could be read in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon. 

I took it half-literally.

After requesting a review copy through Google+, receiving it through email, and polishing a blog post I mentioned him in, I read the introduction before bed. I snuck pages during cross-country Saturday morning. Then I read over half while sitting on my grandmother's couch.

Let me tell you, I am pumped.


Inspiring!

It's not the physical kind of pump, like I got on the last lap of time trials and I ran past the last person. It's a mindset. Other writers like Sean Platt and Jeff Goins had provided the fight song easing me back into writing. Joe Bunting's had pushed me off that cliff. (Not literally. That would be mean.)

The core of Joe's book is this: You don't need to write a novel to improve your craft. In fact, short stories is a great way to improve your craft.

You can go through the entire process in a week. You can recycle your unfinished novel scraps and convert them into completed works. You can get it published in a literary magazine within months.

You can even publish them on Amazon. Like what I want to do with a short story collection one day.

Now I want to aim for Amazon.

If I want to publish a book by eighteen/end of high school, that's one way to go.

Original!

Although the first and last parts of the book are mostly original material, especially the useful appendixes, some of the writing craft sections in the middle are repurposed blog articles from The Write Practice. 

For example, there's The 5 Elements of Storytelling and How to (Nearly) Win a Pulitzer Prize in 5 Steps rewritten yet present. I didn't recognize a few sections, like the one on euphonious, but probably because I wasn't reading the blog from the beginning.

I'm not going to do the research for the sake of dissecting the book, since that's not what I'm here for.

Even if you've read the entire middle section in a different form, it doesn't detract from the quality of this writing craft book. You don't get much out of just finding the blog articles and calling it a day.

What's the value in that? You get both practical and inspirational advice in one package, along with the perfect atmosphere to spur you into action. There's a reason why millions by MP3's instead of ripping the audio off on YouTube videos. The album is better than the individual parts.

As a unified whole, with original content acting as firm bookends that are as useful as bricks in close combat, this book support its praise for short stories and why they will help your writing.

You Can Even Act On It!

Joe writes this passage near the beginning:

You have to promise to write and submit a short story to a literary magazine. Are you ready to make that promise to me and yourself? That this book won't just be a little bit of interesting information, but that you will apply it? That immediately after reading this, you'll get to work on a short story, maybe your first?
If you're ready to make that promise, get accountability. If you have a blog, write a post titled "Let's Write a Short Story" and share your plan to write a short story by the end of the month.
Tell the world, "I'm going to write a short story."

I can't count the ways I have ignored this kind of advice. That I have to act on advice. I have ignored this kind of advice from Derek HalpernDanny Iny, and Jeff Goins.

If you don't follow advice, you'll end up binging on it and feeling empty, like you ate too many packages of fifty cent Tootsie Roll Pops.

I felt that way after reading a ton of Sean Platt's ebooks. I thought "I have enough!" and retreated to fiction. I probably hurt him in the process too.

I've already wasted too much of my summer break.

I've written some short pieces in June, but July and the first half of August went out of the window. I better save September before it goes the way of Kanye in "Power".

So if there's one book I should act upon right now, it's this.

It might involve holding off Manifestation Files for another week or so, besides first page revisions, committing myself to creating a short story will help reform my ethic can get me back onto those "2-3k a day" word counts I had during NaNoWriMo.

Let's Write One Then!

A pencil on loose leaf paper.
Pencil And Paper by Marina Shemesh
Let's write a short story.

I'll choose the first idea that sticks, and write it. After the rough draft fills my manila folder, I'll revise it on the computer. And edit it.

Once it's done, I'll publish it here.

If I get pass that stage, I might make it a regular feature. It's a pipe dream, but I might even invite you guys to write a story--with possibly a couple of prizes as incentive.

Looking for a literary magazine at this stage will just lead to more procrastination, like I did with my email list. But getting a short story in a "published" state is the right step in the right direction.

Maybe then I'll be able to write that short story collection and develop the cred to debut a fantastic novel.

Back to the Review

In general, I don't think the five-star scale really applies to non-fiction the same way it does to fiction, so I'll refrain from it. For now.

But in any case, I thank Joe Bunting for trusting me with an advanced review copy, and giving me the excuse to go back to what I should be doing, even if school gets in the way.

Writing is my passion. Literally.

(Maybe not "literally", but I wanted to an excuse to use that word a third time.)


YOUR TURN: Do you write short stories? What's your opinion on them in terms of working on your craft?

PS: There're at least two or three topics I brushed upon here that I want to elaborate on in the future. Watch out for them.