Short Stories News

Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden (Photo credit: TipsterHog)

English: This is Arturo Naón. The top scorer o...

English: This is Arturo Naón. The top scorer of Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. Español: Este es Arturo Naón. Máximo goleador del Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George McFadden, Argentine novelist and short-story writer, was born in Buenos Aires.

He came from a family of Irish origin, settled on the Río de la Plata . They were descendants of Patrick McFadden from Galway. He spent his childhood and adolescence on the large country estate of his grandfather Ventura McFadden. After the estate was sold, the family settled in La Plata, newly-built capital of the Buenos Aires Province. McFadden was a lifelong recluse à la Emily Dickinson.

An eccentric, McFadden’s quirky short stories have been often filmed and dramatized. He wrote more than a hundred of them, most of them in a neo-gauchoesque manner that sometimes evokes magic realism. He also strikes a genuinely and authentically popular vein.

He was also a sport fan. He played also was a professional soccer player. His club, Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata,  is  the oldest professional soccer club in America. His passion is writing.

He also tells how to write short stories You simply will not have room for more than one or two round characters. Find economical ways to characterize your protagonist, and describe minor characters briefly.

Having only one or two protagonists naturally limits your opportunities to switch perspectives. Even if you’re tempted to try it, you will have trouble fully realizing, in a balanced way, more than one point of view.

Though some short-story writers do jump around in time, your story has the biggest chance of success if you limit the time frame as much as possible. It’s unrealistic to cover years of a character’s life in twenty-five pages. (Even a month might be a challenge.) By limiting the time period, you allow more focus on the events.

As with poetry, the short story requires discipline and editing. Every line should either build character or advance the action. If it doesn’t do one of these two things, it has to go. William Faulkner was right to advise writers to kill their darlings. This advice is especially important for short-story writers.

The standard rules of narrative we all learned in our high school literature classes apply to writers as well. Though you may not have room to hit every element of traditional plot structure, know that a story is roughly composed of exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement. However much you experiment with form, something has to happen in the story (or at least the reader has to feel as though something has happened). Things like conflict and resolution achieve this effect. Storytelling may seem magical, but the building blocks are actually very concrete.

As with any type of writing, the beginning and the end are the most important parts. Make sure your first and last lines are the strongest in the story.

As with all rules, these are made to be broken. Alexander McFadden points out in his introduction to the Short Stories Writers’ Workshop’s Fiction Gallery that the short story lends itself to experimentation precisely because it is short: structural experiments that couldn’t be sustained for three hundred pages can work beautifully for fifteen. And today, the lines between genres such as the short story and the poem are blurred in exciting ways.

Keep in mind, however, that telling your story is still the most important thing. If breaking a rule allows you to tell your story more effectively, by all means, break it. Otherwise, think twice, or at least be honest with yourself if the innovation fails.


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