Here's another "reissued" guest blog post while I'm tied up with editing. This particular entry was originally posted on August 4, 2013, on M.C. Rayne's blog in support of my newest release, Wishing Cotton. I was very appreciative of the opportunity and am grateful to M.C. Rayne for hosting me. I'm providing the link to the original posting below; I encourage you to check out his blog!
A short story is often difficult to talk about in-depth simply due to its brevity, and so readers may wonder why an author would choose not to expand a tale into a full-length novel. As writers of flash fiction will tell you, it is possible to create a whole, breathing, vibrant world in very few words, and short stories are often more complex than their lengthier counterparts. My previous short story, My Apple Tree, actually told two separate stories that covered a great deal of time and incorporated several different characters. However, I have elected to keep my new short story, Wishing Cotton, very simple and uncomplicated.
In my experience, it is the little moments in a story that resonate the strongest with readers rather than the entire plot as a whole. Readers want, of course, to be engaged throughout the full length of the tale, whether it be a novel or a short story. However, a story’s success often hinges on just a paragraph or two – sometimes only one sentence. I’m not pretending to have a powerful, magical moment like that, but it does support the theory that a story does not need to be complicated to be enjoyable.
Wishing Cotton is by far the simplest story I’ve ever written (as an adult, anyway). On its face, it introduces us to three characters: Olive Alexander, her friend Blair Adams, and Peter Keyes. Olive and Blair are vacationing together in a cabin by the beach, and Peter has likewise rented one of his own. All three characters are at a moment in their lives when they must make some decision about where they will go from here. Olive is adjusting after the end of a long-term relationship, Blair is struggling against her need for financial security, and Peter is living under the shadow of a professional failure. While each of them responds in their unique way to their challenges, none of these scenarios are unusual. We can understand the emotions behind their situations because each is something that almost everyone has experienced in their lives. By not focusing on the particulars of the back story, we are able to see the commonalities that resonate with our own experiences.
Likewise, it is the simplicity of this story that allows the reader to see the true lessons that can be taken from each small development in the plot. In order to move forward, the characters must be honest with themselves and identify what is most important to each of them. Until they do this, each of them is trapped in a moment of indecision. If the overarching story were more complex, this essential detail would be lost, but without anything to distract from it, the reader is fully aware of the truth behind each character’s ultimate wish.
I will admit that it is somewhat daunting to present such a basic, straightforward plot. The modern trend favors more dramatic and tempestuous story lines. However, as with any other manuscript I’ve worked on, the central idea and the characters engaged and intrigued me, and I felt that their experiences, however simple, deserved to be brought to life. Authors – like any creative professionals – need to continually stretch and develop their skill, and I have found that writing a simple story is far more challenging than I would have anticipated.
Wishing Cotton is being released on July 23, 2013, by Renaissance Romance Publishing. I hope that readers will enjoy my effort at simple storytelling!
M.C. Rayne 8/4/13 Guest Blog