ON WRITING THE SHORT STORY by Hallie Burnett

ON WRITING THE SHORT STORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The longtime co-editor of Story magazine (with Whit Burnett) offers about 80 pages of advice on writing short stories--followed by six ""proofs of the pudding"" from bygone issues of Story. Burnett's guidelines are far from surprising: ""The good story reduces drama and common human experience to its essence. Being short and to the point, it will focus on a moment, or a year, or maybe a lifetime, providing drama, wit, irony, humor, or tragedy."" She stresses conviction, the need to tell something. There are brief, common-sensical discussions of plot, style, and character--with a few nuts-and-bolts items along with the generalizations. (""The important thing is to find appropriate names for your characters. . . . Scorn it or not, one way to find a name is to read your telephone book. . . ."") And, as for the actual writing, Burnett reminds us that ""a strong opening is essential""--and then ""You simply put one foot before the other, without thinking self-consciously along the way."" With quotations from other writer/advisers and a few examples from her own editor/writer career: old-fashioned basics, reasonable enough but of questionable practical value (outside the classroom) for most beginning storytellers.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1983
Publisher: Hsarper & Row