All Things Writing

The Craft of Writing


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How Long is a Short Story

Here’s a terrific post on the length of five short stories each, by seven celebrated short story writers.

You’ll find counts for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, and Edgar Allan Poe.

You’ll find counts for A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World, Eyes of a Blue Dog, One of These Days, Death Constant Beyond Love; A Sound of Thunder, The Pedestrian, The Small Assassin, The Veldt, There Will Come Soft Rains; Cathedral, Why Don’t You Dance, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, So Much Water So Close To Home, Where I’m Calling From, Hills Like White Elephants, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, A Clean [,] Well-Lighted place, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Indian Camp; Runaway, The Bear Came Over the Mountain, Family Furnishings, The Moons of Jupiter, Cortes Island; A Good Man is Hard to Find, The life You Save May Be Your Own, Good Country People, Everything That Rises Must Converge, Parker’s Back; The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Black Cat, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart.

The long story short {yes. I crack myself up} The average length is 5,100 words.

What do you think?


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Trello to the Rescue

Trello is my newest, hopefully enduring, writing tool. It’s a tool for teams, although I’m finding it very useful for my individual work. Basically, it organizes projects into boards. Looking at a board, you can tell everything you need about your work. The trick is in how you set it up.  Continue reading


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Finding the Story

Narrative nonfiction is the craft of telling a story using only true events. That sounds like boxing with one hand tied behind your back. It isn’t. If you have a story, the true events are essential to that narrative. Using them to bring the beginning, middle, and end to life becomes an exercise in finding just the right details. Throughout the process, you know that when you do, the reader will be that much more involved in what you have to say. Continue reading

Success in 2018 – Leslie Siddeley

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Leslie Siddeley's narrative nonfiction piece, Storms and Memory on Ocracoke Island1


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Series: Writing Nonfiction

I’m beginning a series of posts that will cover writing nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and long form narrative; finding a topic; uncovering the story in your notes; the craft of nonfiction; and topics related to writing nonfiction.

The posts will be based upon my study and experience in this exciting – yes, exciting! – area of writing. It will also be based upon the feedback and questions I’ve received from my students in the workshops I teach at The Writer’s Center, as well as in the writing classes and webinars I offer online.

I’ll make the post titles descriptive, as well as the tags, so you’ll be able to tell and find the posts that interest you. If you have any questions, or comments, or just want to weigh in, please use this form. Thanks! ~Gina


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Narrative Craft – The Way In

Narrative Nonfiction is a terrific way to combine true events with the facts that expand and explicate those events. As long as you accurately relate the facts, you are free to use them in a narrative. That sounds easy enough, but the truth is that you will often have a pile of — facts. How those facts are going to make a story anyone wants to read, let along a story faced on the truth, is not necessarily clear.

18715811_xxlYou could know precisely what you want to say and how you want to say it before you begin your research/reporting. In my experience, that generally ends in a stiff piece because you need to get the interviewees and facts to line up with what you want to say. It may be that you want to say something you can’t support.

You could just start interviewing everyone you can think of and see where it leads. That sort of fishing expedition often leaves you going back for a second round of interviews – actually two additional rounds, since you were overly generally in the first interview; every specific in the second; and now need some sense of this person, which you’ll gain through the third.

You could start by writing what you already know in an informal sort of list meant for your eyes only. You could then list the things you know you don’t know, along with why you think they might be important. You could also read whatever you can find as background material before selecting your interview candidates. You could then do a far-reaching and thorough interview that will hold up in 99% of circumstances.

The latter is the one I strive for, yet even with that, I wind up with a ton of research and branches I hadn’t anticipated – which is a good thing. Because of this, I pick a topic and then keep an open mind about the “way in.” Continue reading


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Narrative Nonfiction – What is it?

Narrative Nonfiction is a type of nonfiction in which narrative techniques are used to tell a story with the facts. This type of nonfiction differs from a straight report or news story because it does more than relay the facts; it creates the full context around those facts by using facts.

Sounds like a lot of facts. In fact, it may even sound deadly boring. It’s anything but. Continue reading