In today’s show we discuss Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story, “The Prairie Wife,” which appeared in the New Yorker, January X&X issue. Spoiler alert! We reveal everything about the story. You can listen to or read it at the links below. Angie breaks down the story into its seven steps, and we revisit James Scott Bell’s definition of short story–“A great short story is about the fallout from one shattering moment.”–to examine this tale and a few others in passing. We then discuss the midpoint of a story, how to create a midpoint large enough to shake up and recalibrate the story. How about the idea of starting in the middle. We talk about ways to make sure your middle is not forgettable and does not flag, including misdirection, indirection and other more subtle ways of creating change besides high drama.
The Lori Moore story “Terrific Mother” about dropping the baby is part of her collection, Birds of America
Start Your Book in the Middle by James Scott Bell
Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith
Gospel Song in Dorothy Allison’s Trash
Heather Young’s The Lost Girls
Story Makers is a podcast that features in-depth conversations with accomplished writers, filmmakers and industry experts about story craft, technique, habit and survival–everything you need to know to stay inspired, connect to your creativity, find others’ wonderful stories and your own success.
Elizabeth Stark is a published, agented novelist and distributed filmmaker who teaches and mentors writers at BookWritingWorld.com.
Angie Powers is a distributed filmmaker and published short story writer with an MFA in creative writing and a certificate in screenwriting from UCLA who teaches story structure at BookWritingWorld.com.