This month The Masters Review focused on the short story in a way I’m very proud of. Our thesis was this: The Masters Review celebrates writing that works, not what is supposed to work, or taught to work, or what is strictly labeled as a story that “works.” This month we discuss stories that surprise us, from flash fiction, to literary science fiction, to magical realism, and back to the basic Freytag — we applaud the short story, and all the different things it has come to mean.
Ashley Farmer mentioned stories that live in her mind as both poems and narratives. Kevin Brockmeier expressed his hope that we might live in a literary world where labels like fantasy, science fiction, and genre fall away, and Aimee Bender spoke about the fantastic, how the unreal guides us toward a truer examination of our lives. Each of these interviews and discussions echoed a sentiment that inspires breaking from tradition. This week, we take a look at short story basics, more specifically dramatic structure, to acknowledge that while pushing boundaries moves writing forward, basic narrative elements tell powerful stories.
Freytag’s examination of short stories provides a clear geometry for dramatic structure. Most writers know the progression: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. This formula offers an effective strategy for a “good” story, and is present in many of our favorites. Most traditional stories follow this path in some way, eliciting an emotional response from the reader through the story’s progression. It is an important structure to recognize because it helps break down the elements of the story that move us. This structure breakdown shows us how the story works.
Read more at The Masters Review…