Monday, October 17, 2016

A Weekend in Atlanta Talking Short Stories

by Paula Gail Benson
Robert Mangeot, Fran Stewart, and PGB (Photo by Charlie Burton)

My membership in Sisters in Crime has afforded me many benefits, including information, encouragement, and camaraderie. I’m particularly grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in a recent short story workshop sponsored by the Atlanta Chapter and organized by its President Lisa Malice and Debra Goldstein. The event took place at the Decatur Public Library, a marvelous facility with well-equipped auditorium and a patio where those attending could have lunch and talk with the presenters. It was a true privilege for me to be on the program with three short story writers I greatly admire, Debra, Kaye George, and Robert Mangeot.


We set an ambitious goal to provide a comprehensive overview of the short story craft and submission process. While we concentrated on mysteries, we were delighted to have writers of literary fiction and other genres participating.

Debra Goldstein (Photo by Robert Mangeot)
Debra got us started with a description of the short story and an extremely effective analysis of how to develop conflict through phrasing and action. Robert brilliantly covered setting, character, and dialogue in a single segment that incorporated the use of Gone with the Wind to illustrate his points. Kaye and I took on the challenge of jointly teaching plotting strategies and discovered that our approaches and preferred structural models offered some interesting alternatives for putting together a story.

After lunch, Kaye explained how revision and editing were essential in developing a marketable manuscript. I followed up with some exercises to get the creative juices flowing. I’m pleased to report that the group left with almost everyone having written a six-word story a la Ernest Hemingway’s “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Robert finished up the day with a wonderful method for pursuing publication and left us all with the inspirational question: “What is your dream?” By telling us about his own writing journey and encouraging us to consider what we truly wished to achieve, he sent us forth excited about the possibilities.
PGB and Kaye George (Photo by Robert Mangeot)

Our participants were so enthusiastic, it became infectious. We exchanged a lot of very helpful information.

I am particularly grateful to Lisa Malice and her husband Lou for their generous hospitality. Kaye and I were fortunate enough to stay with them for the weekend. Not only did we get to enjoy Lisa and Lou’s lovely home, fabulous food, and great conversations, but also we had a terrific time practicing our presentation and catching up.


Thank you to the Atlanta Chapter for taking the time to focus on the short story. I appreciate my fellow presenters so very much. I always learn from each of you and I value our friendships. Finally, many thanks to all those who attended. May you find the success in writing that you are seeking!

16 comments:

  1. So glad to hear it went well! Wish I could've attended myself. :-)

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  2. We would have loved to have you there. If your ears were burning, it's because you were mentioned often!

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  3. Your report is much more thorough than mine! Thanks, Paula. (You didn't mention the pajama party. Should I not mention it either?)

    Art, I know I mentioned you!

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    1. Kaye, I almost did. Yes, let's mention it. It was part of the fun. So glad we had that time to spend together!

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  4. Kaye, I thought your report was great! Sorry I missed reading it earlier.

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  5. I'm delighted (but not at all surprised) that everything went so well. Congratulations!

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    1. Bonnie, your name was mentioned often, too!

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    2. I told them about your First Two Pages. I hope some of them visit.

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  6. That Gone With the Wind illustration sounds interesting. Wish I could have been there.

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  7. Someone should set up a short story conference. We'd have to find an area where there are a number of writers interested in that form. No, NOT volunteering! Just musing.

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    1. Recover from your surgery fast! Then, we'll let you know when the conference is scheduled! Dreaming big!

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  8. Sounds like a fun and informative conference. I love those things, and it's my goal to get to a writers conference and retreat in 2017. I hope your next post might go into detail about some those exercises you did. Always room for more writer's craft.

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  9. Thanks, Kimberly. I was just pondering my next topic. I will follow up as you request!

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