Writers searching for succinct reminders for improving their short stories will appreciate the efforts of Alan Mahar, director of Tindal Street Press in Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. Mahar asked some of his authors to describe exactly how their favorite short-story writers mastered techniques of the form. Their answers—go get ’em—are available as free downloads on the publisher’s website.
In a lesson titled “Be Indirect,” Alan Beard explains how the technique of being surreptitious is used by the writer William Trevor in a story about a mother who remains unaware that her daughter has been molested:
‘Good News’ in fact is a perfect example of the oblique approach. The child abuse is central but is never referred to directly. This makes it all the more powerful because it suggests how such things can slip by unnoticed in real life, also the reader is left with the horrible task of thinking about what might have happened.
The 10 downloadable lessons focus on concepts that should be familiar to the point of being instinctive for fiction writers. If not, there’s work to be done—and a nice long weekend ahead in which to do it.