Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#WWW: Short Story Structure by Linda Carroll-Bradd #Excerpt

Today I have the lovely Linda Carroll-Bradd here to share a bit about short story structure AND her newest release! Be sure to check out the giveaway, too!


While taking a recent online class on writing short stories, I learned some basics on structure which helped me complete three stories in just a couple days each and get them contracted. One of the important tasks in a short story is to create events that occur within a short time frame, like a couple days or a week. So an author doesn’t have the word count to reveal through long introspection what happened to get the character to this exact moment when the conflict starts. The advantage to the author is the fact only a few key pieces of information need to be created for each character. What’s essential is to make sure the characters you’re creating are opposites in their backgrounds and have opposing thoughts on what they want out of life. Another important consideration is to keep the focus on the hero and heroine, don’t add characters that don’t fulfill a specific function.

What do I mean by a short time frame? For my most recent release, Unlocked Treasure, I knew I needed a Halloween theme or event as part of the story. (that was the publisher’s decision) So I build a story that took place the week before the holiday and worked in a real-life event that occurs in Providence, Rhode Island. I created a week-long grid on Excel (you could do this longhand) and worked out how they would meet, what would make them cross paths a second time, what shared interests did they have, what opposite interests, and which character had the most changing to do. In this case, she hated anything to do with the sea because of past events and he’s a sailor/maritime instructor and yacht builder. He’s an adventurer who is hunting pirate treasure and she has experienced loss because of sea-related careers. Instant conflict that is worked out at the end of the 15K story.

What do I mean by opposing goals? Ever hear of a plot with a homebody and a wanderer? How could you construct a plot where there’s a happy ending for this couple? Obviously, one of the characters will have to realize that the other person is wonderful enough to change his or her goal. I did this in my story, Wanderer, Come Home, that’s included in the Cowboys, Creatures and Calico, Vol 1 anthology published by Prairie Rose Publications. Five years earlier, the heroine came to Texas as a mail-order bride and has been recently widowed, so she owns more land now than her parents ever did. And she aims to hold onto it. Into town rides an ex-Texas ranger who is tracking a stagecoach robber but is also looking for a job on a ranch to get him through the winter. Just until the Texas legislature funds the Rangers again. (true fact about early years of the Rangers) So they have very different goals that are resolved with a HEA by the end of the 15K story.

What do I mean keep the focus on Hero and Heroine? In my short story, Bewitching Gypsy, included in Spooktacular Seductions (releasing 10/31) from Roane Publishing, I include only 2 main characters, an infant, and 2 secondary characters that are in and out of the story within a page (plus 2 horses, 1 dog, and 1 goat). In this story, I threw in 2 standard romance tropes—baby on the doorstep and amnesia. After a one-page introduction of the heroine shown in an activity that reveals the type of person she is, she is faced with immediate intrusions into her solitary life. Her character is revealed further as she deals with the baby and amnesiac hero. This 7900 word story pits the hero and heroine together in tight quarters as she tends his wounds and happens in less than 24 hours.

I find writing short length stories hones my skills to keep the action centered on the couple and love typing “the end” within a few days.


Unlocked Treasure

Will a prophecy keep a lonely woman from accepting the promise of adventure?

Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion--sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?


Ah, the story of her life—practically invisible. The reminder his first sighting had been of her bikini-clad backside made her blush. Still didn’t change the facts. Aleen squared her shoulders. “I remember, but the Manor grounds are still closed.” Should she be nervous about being alone with this stranger, especially one who ignored posted rules?

“Sorry for the intrusion. Let me start over.” Smiling, he approached and extended his right hand. “My name’s Braden Williams.”

Aleen bit her lower lip, but accepted his hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Aleen MacRae.” At the moment their hands clasped, she felt warmth flooding her fingers. With a jerk, she released her grip, tingling sensations running along her skin. Immediately, the scent of fresh air and summer breezes wafted her way. Definitely a man of the sea. Just where I foretold your future lies. Whispers of her great-aunt Zsofika’s prophecy trickled through Aleen’s thoughts. At the memory, her cheeks flamed with heat.

“Wow.” Frowning, Braden flexed his hand and narrowed his gaze then dropped it to his flexing fingers. “That was bizarre.”

“Static electricity, from all that wind yesterday.” A reasonable explanation. In the back of her mind, Aleen could hear Zsofika scoff, “Static schmatic. A connection like that is destiny.”

“Well…” His gaze searched her face. “Aleen—hey, that’s pretty, like the direction alee.” A wide smile exposed even teeth.

Her own smile dimmed. Like I’ve never heard that before. “Thanks.” This guy was not charming his way around the rules. “Sorry, but you’ll need to come back when the gardens are open for visitors. That’s Wednesdays through—”

“Yeah, I read the sign.” He gave a dismissive wave then turned to gaze back at the main house. “But I just needed five minutes to check out some dimensions and the lot layout.”

“So, you woke up this morning and just decided to start out your week by trespassing?”



The Wild Rose Press:

Barnes & Noble:


As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.


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