Wednesday Writing Tips: Magical Realism Short Stories

THIS IS WHERE TO START WITH MAGICAL REALISM SHORT STORIES

By: Mary Kay McBrayer

As with any genre categorization, the edges of magical realism short stories are blurry. The term “magical realism” itself seems to be an oxymoron: if it’s magical, how can it be real? The definition, however nebulous, depends on whom you ask.magical-realism-short-stories

HOW DO YOU DEFINE MAGICAL REALISM SHORT STORIES?

I tried to reduce the definition to its most simplistic qualities: the world of the story is realistic, just like this one, or maybe a little worse. Magical elements are introduced to the world of the story, and the characters in the world treat them as though they are real, a part of their crappy world. The characters are not astounded by the presence of what seems (to the reader) magical.

Naturally there are some dissenting opinions, and because humans like to categorize things, there are some distinct sub-genres. Surrealism is “concerned with upending accepted realities,” and fabulism “is known for putting fables and myths into a contemporary setting.” (For more on these topics, click here.)

For our purposes, we have another chunk of that genre to define as well: what is a short story? What qualifies as “short,” and what makes a “story.” Again, I tried to reduce this definition to its most simplistic qualities: if I can read it in one sitting, then it’s “short.” If I have to get up for snack breaks, to check my email, et cetera, it doesn’t qualify. As far as defining “story”: there needs to be a narrative. That means, to me, SOMETHING HAPPENS. Something happens after which nothing is the same, a new status quo is reached. Much of the time, the magical entering the realistic world works as the “something,” but not always.

With those VERY loose terms defined, here are some of the most impactful magical realism short stories, including magical realism short story collections and magical realism short story authors.

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Wednesday Writing Tips: Selling by Not Telling

Selling a story by NOT telling a story

By: WrittenInsomnia.com

Here’s the thing with telling someone about your book – be it in person, or in an ad, or via the back cover copy you’ve spent arduous hours perfecting: almost every author is terrible at it. Because almost every author makes the horrible mistake of thinking that you sell someone on your story by telling them about your story. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You have to remember you have maybe two sentences before people get bored. So you don’t start off with your story, you start off with a BANG.

What I often tell new authors — or even old authors — is to imagine your sales pitch as pictures of your kids (if you don’t have kids, imagine you do — you’re a writer, it should be easy). Every single human above the age of 20 has had someone approach them with that person’s pictures of their kids. They start showing off the pictures and yammering on about things that matter incredibly to that person, but not at all to us.

Your story is your baby in some ways. Especially in that nobody else cares at all about it until you give them a REASON to care.

Now, if that person who can’t stop showing you their baby pictures walks up and says, “Timmy’s face caught fire yesterday,“ now you are in it for the long haul. They can actually take their time getting to the good part, because they have told you something in the first sentence that makes it clear the story is going to be worth your while.

Remember, also, that ad copy and back cover copy is NOT ABOUT TELLING THE STORY. It is about providing potential readers with an idea of the tone and genre of your book, and then the only other thing you are trying to do is pose a question in the reader’s mind that can ONLY be answered by reading the book.

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The Indieverse Resource Library (IRL) is an online directory of resources for both Indie authors and readers who are seeking information and guidance on a variety of topics, including book selection, maintaining an at-home library, writing, publishing, promotion, marketing, business-management, book reviews, translation, and a whole host of other issues relevant to our Indie community!

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