Favorite stories

Today is the first day of my Gotham Writers spring schedule, which means that I will be spending today teaching. So I felt I should include something educational in today’s post.  One of the things I’ll be talking to my students about is how to plot a novel, and something that is very useful in that respect, is to start taking apart stories. Not everyone looks at it this way, but I think there is some validity to considering a short story a very short novel. So with that in mind, what are some good short stories to tear apart and learn from: 1. “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” by Sherman Alexie.  Read this for voice, for first person point of view, and for the beautiful structure. Everything you want to know about narrative arc is in this story. 2. “Labors of the Heart,” by Claire Davis. Read this for character and dialogue and that hopeless yearning that fuels the best stories. 3. “Afterward,” by Edith Wharton, which contains one of my favorite plot twists in all literature. 4. “A Death,” by Stephen King, first published in The New Yorker. A real master of story telling.  5. “Wants” by Grace Paley. Just love her voice. 6. “A Slight Deviation from the Mean,” by Susan Oleksiw. Set in India. In the November/December issue of Alfred Hitchcock. 7. “Cat Person,” by Kristen Roupenanian. This New Yorker short story went viral because of its provocative account of a young woman’s relationship with an older man. A great story to discuss with a class.  8. “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson.  Because this story has stayed in my head since the first time I read it, and it’s just as chilling the tenth time around. Do you have any favorite stories?

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