Day 6 – Other People’s Openings

day 6 banner

Today’s task is to read at least the opening of a few of these stories and see if you could fill in the first part of the Short Story Framework for those stories.

When You Get Back From Nashville by Patricia Q. Bidar

Character: Empty-nesting mom, Desire: to maintain a meaningful connection with her grown child

My Dear You by Rachel Khong

Character: a newly-deceased bride, Desire: to adjust to her new circumstances

Abernathy Resume by KB Carle

Character: Underappreciated teacher, Desire: to get a better job (be appreciated and better paid)

The Day The Birds Came – Kyra Kondis

Character: A school child (complicated by the ‘we’, but essentially…), Desire: to be cool/important

Shit Cassandra Saw  That She Didn’t Tell The Trojans Because At That Point Fuck Them Anyway – Gwen Kirby

Character: a disillusioned seer, Desire: wants to be believed

(the answer to ‘how soon do you know the character’ is ‘immediately, because it’s all in the title!!”)

Who is the character?

What is their adjective?

What is their desire?

You can read other short stories, if you want, but pay attention to how soon in each story you are able to identify these things. How many lines/words (or what percentage) into the story are you, when you know who the character is and what they want?

(Hint: it’s usually not very far.)

Note: their desire/need may not be the same thing, and may change over the course of the story. Today, we’re just focused on the opening.


make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join The Discussion: How would YOU fill in the Short Story Framework for one of these stories? Post it below!

(If you want to see my answers, highlight the lines under each story link,  above. You’ll see my answers appear)

14 thoughts on “Day 6 – Other People’s Openings”

  1. Ohh these were good stories to read. I find… and this is a bit silly from someone who is trying to write short fiction… that I am not a great reader of short fiction. It is a total mind shift from reading something longer that I have to apply my patience and attention. Especially with “My Dear You,” I was just getting ready to get started by the time it ended and then I was bummed there wasn’t more! All in all, reading these and applying the framework was a good exercise.

    1. You are far from alone. Most of us spend most of our time reading novels and then writing teachers say ‘start by writing short stories, that’ll teach you how to write a novel”…um, no!

      I love the slippery, subversive little creatures that are short stories, precisely because they aren’t novels!

      It’s also really , really common to get this feedback when you first share a short story with someone who doesn’t read them often: “This is would be a great opening to a novel”. We have to fight the believe them. Eventually, if you end up liking short fiction, you cheerfully grin at them and say ‘Nope. This is it. This is all you get.”

      It’s a different experience for reader and writer, both. That’s why I’m pushing reading, too, during this challenge. Good for you, for embracing it!

  2. So far, so good. I enjoyed the stories so much! A day behind, but learning and having fun. Based on Patricia Bidar’s When You Get Back From Nashville, I saw:
    A _____concerned_____(adjective) ____mother of a new adult__(noun) __yearns____(strong verb) _to renew the mother/child bond______(subject) so __she delays (giving instruction at baggage claim)_____(verb),
    and because of that offers (lunch at a favorite restaurant) _____(verb),
    and because of that _she listens (without questions or advice)___(verb)
    until __she needs a break from treating her wandering child as an adult___(something changes)
    and__takes off for the health food store to find something that might represent the tenor of this new relationship. ___(what has changed?)
    Closing question/statement/image: _The daughter says she’ll wait.

  3. This was a fun exercise and so inspiring. I’m haunted by “My Dear You” — it was so beautifully written. I need to read more short stories!

  4. At first, I thought I was on the wrong page for the story, “Abernathy Resume.” HELLO! “RESUME”!!! 😉 Anyway . . . I was AWESTRUCK by the realization that even a resume tells a story. Really, ANYTHING can TRULY tell a story. It is SO IMPORTANT NOT to forget this. To ALWAYS be on the lookout for the stories that are right under our noses, in the least likely of places. Otherwise, we will miss out on the Story Sparks that are TRULY EVERYWHERE.

  5. I found out I’m bad at analysing openings! However, I clutched my Short Story Framework a d carried on. Finally I chose to focus on MY DEAR YOU by RACHEL KHONG.
    I felt satisfied with my entries on the framework but I could not sum up the closing statement in a brief way. I felt I knew but just couldn’t find words. Does this happen to anyone else?
    This was a really hard task for me.

    1. Of course the tricky thing is that stories are art, and they don’t REALLY follow formulas (and short stories are particularly rebellious), so I knew I was setting you a real challenge here.

      And not every story ends with a closing image. I tend to look for the emotion that good stories evoke (for example, My Dear You had a strongly emotional ending and that’s a valid way to go, too)

      Also, my ‘answers’ are far from the only/definitive ones.

  6. I loved Abernathy Resume! You can squeeze a lot of story into a nontraditional form. The unemployed, unappreciated teacher just trying to get a better job really comes through.

  7. Wow– Great stories, and great as examples. And the highlighting thing is very clever. I’ve never seen that done before.

  8. What INCREDIBLE stories. I am so inspired! My favorite was the untrusted oracle who wants to share her visions with someone who gives a sh*t.

    1. Aren’t they good?

      Gwen Kirby has a brand-new collection of stories out under the same title (Well, actually the book is only called “Shit Cassandra Saw”. Not sure if that’s about fitting it on the cover or if they thought they could only get away with one swear 😉 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.