Hold On to Your Shorts!


Hi Everyone

I am pleased to announce that today I have the writer and published author Jennifer Owenby as my guest blogger.

Jennifer lives in the northwest of the united states on the pacific ocean with her husband and children. She is a published author of short stories, a freelance writer, and some days will attempt a novel.

“One thing I’ve learned, is that the craft of writing is an ongoing project. If I’d realised that when I started, I wonder if I would have continued. Now, I can’t stop. It’s as much a part of who I am as the air I breathe.”

As Jennifer is a short story expert, I thought it would be fantastic to find out more about the appeal of short story writing and this is what she had to say…..

Hold on To Your Shorts!

I love writing and the more I do it, the more I love it. Like many others, it’s a part of who I am.

Any form of writing is great practice but I feel the value of working on short stories is often overlooked. Here are three great reasons to write and hold on to your shorts.

  1. They are a great tool for working on “problem spots.
  2. They force you to tighten up your words
  3. You can publish them in between novels

I attended a short fiction class and during that time students wrote a new short story. After completion, the instructor worked one on one with us.  Together, we looked at the story in sections, fixed problem areas and discussed why the changes were made. Working on a smaller story and understanding how to fix the issues, then allowed me to apply that knowledge to my novel. I learned faster dealing with a smaller story. It was easier to identify, understand and correct the problems, rather than be overwhelmed by a novel sized story.

Another reason to write short stories is it teaches you to choose your words carefully. It forces the writer to think about each word, especially if there’s a word limit. This helps to eliminate wordy sentences and is a great way to practice throwing out adverbs and replace them with action verbs.

Have you noticed that authors who have published books through traditional publishing companies and self published authors are creating short stories and novellas in-between books?  This allows the author to pull in additional readers between projects and gives fans new material to read. These shorts are either separate stories that involve a character’s back story, or some other link to their published novels. This also allows the author’s name to remain on the book list instead of fading into the back ground.

There are several great books on writing short stories including, “Let’s Write a Short Story” by Joe Bunting and “Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories” by Margaret Lucke, but if you have a good outline and understand the mechanics, as long as you are writing, you are only going to get better. So, hold on to your shorts and thanks for stopping by!

A huge thanks to Jennifer for this insightful post. I have to say that I don’t think I will ever look at short story writing in the same way again.

Jennifer can be contacted on jenowenby@live.com

Her most recent magazine publication is:

“The Long Road Home” short story for Chinook 2012 literary magazine in print and online: http://www.ojc.edu/chinook/Chinook_2012.pdf

Jennifer owns ONB Freelance Services, specialising in writing articles and online content for businesses and entertainment. Her experience includes the publication of several short stories in print, as well as contracted freelance work. Jennifer states, she offers low rates for content, articles, set up and maintenance of blogs.

Her online portfolio can be viewed by clicking any of the links below:

C is for Compelling Characters (A-Z of Writing)


Hi Everyone

Whatever story you are writing, you have to create compelling characters. This does not mean to say they all have to be ‘nice’ characters, on the contrary, some villains make the most compelling characters because as human beings we are naturally curious as to why a person has become in that state of being and that’s what keeps us intrigued. Therefore a flawed character can be just as attractive as someone with an endearing personality. Think about how many TV programmes there are nowadays, that explore the reasons as to why a serial killer became that in the first place. We want to understand the reason why someone speaks, acts and behaviours in the manner in which they do, so that we can find a part of ourselves that connects with them in some way and causes us to want to know more. It becomes a challenge to us, a mission, to want to solve the puzzle of their personality.

There are exceptions to this. If you are writing a children’s book for 3-5 years, the last thing you want to do is bring a nasty character into the story as this would most likely scare a child of that age. With this age group, it is more about a child being compelled by the main character because they can relate to a problem the character is experiencing.  For example losing their Blankie or favourite toy. The reader wants to know how that problem is going to be resolved. This is the ‘hook’ that pulls the reader along to the end and needs to be intertwined with a degree of tension, built gradually to a peak and then to a successful conclusion.

To create a compelling character in a novel from someone who seems to have the most wonderful personality and the most perfect life, they usually have to have something happen to them in the story that affects them in some way. The more major way the better, as it adds curiosity and drama to the plot, increases tension and compels the reader to find out how they deal with that event and how it affects  the people around them. Remember ’cause and effect’ and as you write your story, keep thinking of this in your head. You need a ’cause’ to create a puzzle that needs to be solved and you need to explore the ‘effects’ of this on the main character and consequently the other characters. As the reader gets into the mind of the characters and feels for them, they will want to know more and read on.

But what about non-fiction books?

With non-fiction books, the book is often written by someone with experience in their field. They have been through it, done it and come out the other side. They are imparting the knowledge of their experience to the reader. So in effect, they are the main character and they become compelling when they are viewed as an expert with a human touch, that other people can relate to and learn valuable information from, to inspire and to help them. Another thing a non-fiction writer may include in their book, is case studies, these are often based on real-life people, whose identity has been kept anonymous but who have been through similar experiences to that of the reader. They are compelling because as they pop up throughout the book, they offer various solutions to solving a problem or issue that the reader needs to be resolved.

As always, your comments are most welcome.

Write soon

Sandra