The Short Of It

The curtain is blue for a reason

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Any literature teachers in the house?

Symbolism has gotten a bit of a bad wrap on the internet as of late. (As well as some defenders popping out from the woodwork.) A lot of this criticism is from the reader-side and the “remember the time as a student in a high school literature class” -side. While I hesitate to jump into the meat of that debate, I am on the side that symbolism is valid, but maybe the way it is taught in high school isn’t always the greatest.

Stepping aside from that, what about symbolism from the writer’s side…

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Three praxis for developing your individual writing style

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As a fiction writer, developing your voice and style is a highly individual thing. As says, style “is the unique way they use words to capture their work on the page.” In that way, no one can teach you your style. It’s not grammar rules. It’s not even the best practices of clarity; show, don’t tell; and other storytelling and prose advice that is often shared amongst fiction writers. It’s how you the individual weaves words together. You have to discover and develop your writing voice all on your own.

If that seems like a daunting journey, it’s because…

On how to write for children without writing “down” to children

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Along with being a writer, I have spent over the last six years being a children’s librarian. So when it comes to the quality of writing for children, I have opinions. Informed opinions, I hope.

In this article, when I refer to children’s books and literature, it is intended as an umbrella term for everything from picture books to chapter books, from early literacy up until the YA cut off, including long and short forms. If it is fiction written for a children’s audience, that is what is covered here.

It isn’t easier

Sometimes it seems that there are writers who become interested…

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When to follow the rules of writing, and when to ditch them

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I’ve created quite a little collection of articles about the rules of creative writing. What you should do. What you shouldn’t do. Tips. Tricks. Hacks. Warnings. Explanations. So it might seem strange that I am saying you should forget the rules sometimes.

I don’t think it’s strange I’m saying that. I almost always caveat my advice with just that… It’s just my advice, from my perspective and from my experience. I mention there are exceptions — for different writers, for different stories, for different genres. That these are just guidelines and suggestions. But sometimes that hedging is not enough.


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On writing effective scenes

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Scenes are the building blocks of stories, whether a short story, novel, or memoir. In short stories, a story can be as short as one scene and can be as many scenes as the story demands.

As building blocks — or perhaps more accurately, puzzle pieces — that make up the larger structure and picture of the story, scenes are mini-stories in and of themselves. An effective scene can leave the reader anxious for more, while an ineffective one may leave a reader bored and confused.

So, what does a scene need to be effective?

The elements of a story

As a mini-story in and…

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And what to do instead

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I come at this from a place of experience. These are not plots/tropes that can never be written, but require a deft hand to pull off. But they are also plots I saw commonly pop up in the workshop classes I took when working towards in, and are not the strongest or most intriguing plots, to begin with. These are usually ones that plague the more artsy and artsy-hopeful writers. I’m here to gently warn you to not be tempted by these, especially in your early writer stages.

Stories about writing

Stories about writing and writer’s block are to…

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How to end a story without disappointing your audience

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As a culture, it seems we are getting a bit tired of twist endings that come out of nowhere just for shock value. But this is an issue for more than just twist endings. It counts for a sad ending tacked on to a happy story to make it seem more profound. Ambiguous endings to make it seem artsier. Any endings that are not deserved by the story.

Happy, sad, ambiguous, or a twist… endings of stories have to be earned. They have to be earned by the rest of the story. The plot has to build to it. The…

Newsflash: It doesn’t magically make you a lot of money

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For July 2021, I challenged myself to post an article on Medium every day. I (mostly) succeeded, posting 26 articles out of the 31 day month, petering out during the last week as I had other obligations take priority. Previously I had posted 4–5 times a month, roughly once a week on average, and I wanted to test the waters to see if everyday posting — like so many Medium gurus profess — was a gateway to glory. Here’s what I found out…

Not a money-maker…

Guess what, posting every day did not make me a three or four-digit monthly Medium income. I…

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Getting from the first draft to the second draft (and all the drafts beyond!)

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So you have the first draft of a short story. What now? The rare unicorn of a short story may be knocked out of the park perfection on the first draft, but for the most part, there will be some sort of rewriting and editing to be done.

But where to start? From the first line? From the outline? With tearing your hair out in stress and panic?

But there is no reason to stress (any more than us creative writers already stress!). …

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Choosing POV in your fiction

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There are many types of Points of View that can be used in a fiction story, whether short or long. The most common are first and third person, with some like . POV (when done well) is often fairly invisible to the reader, but it’s an important decision the writer makes that can make or break a story, or transform it into another beast entirely.

So, with such an important decision, how do you choose?

The key is to match your story idea with the best and more effective way to tell it. …

Margery Bayne

Margery is a librarian by day and a writer by night; a published short story author and an aspiring novelist. Find more at or @themargerybayne.

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