Select Page

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.

Links Discussed:

More about Curtis Sittenfeld and her new books

Curtis Sittenfel reads “The Prairie Wife.”

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.

The hosts:

Elizabeth Stark is a published, agented novelist and distributed filmmaker who teaches and mentors writers at

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