Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can a sad story survive?

My WIP has floated along, stopping to say hello but never staying to put down roots. It has been frustrating to write on occasion, because the subject matter is difficult. Believing it was supposed to be a book has burdened me. Recently I read about a woman who won a short story contest in Writer’s Digest. My heart started racing as I considered new potential outlets for this WIP. Perhaps is not meant to be a book at this stage? Ideas flitted about faster than I could process them. I could write my characters journey into a short story! My fiction piece wouldn’t lose value by being reduced in size to a more manageable work.

At this stage of life, maybe short stories would be a viable option for this writer. I felt free. The pieces are fitting together in my mind as never before, suddenly “it” makes sense. By eliminating the pressure of a complete book, writing fiction once again feels life giving. I am going to focus on telling the part of the story that matters to me the most. Who knows? Maybe I too will enter a short story contest?

The possibilities are exciting. More importantly, I can stay true to the nuance of this story. What it wants to be today. It can always expand later. I am not writing it for a market per se, but as a conduit to let these characters speak. I have been told that no one will be able to read a subject matter without a happy ending. I disagree. I believe people will connect with writing that peeks into their secrets, surprising them that they are not alone.

Life doesn’t always end with closure, perhaps a story that doesn’t force a happy ending might be just what causes a reader to reflect…writing their own ending. Can a sad story survive? It can be a good read, and be a catalyst for change, even just for one person. If I allow God to use me to tell the story, He will certainly bring the reader who needs to connect through it. What are your thoughts?


  1. I think you are absolutely right Christa. Some material just doesn't fully develop into a novel. I love reading short pieces. Go for it!

  2. Michelle WeidenbennerApril 24, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I totally agree. Do it! It will help having renewed energy toward it, too. Yes, happy endings sell more, but those types of stories are often written for entertainment. Yours sounds more profound, thought-provoking, and potentially life-changing. There's a difference. Also, a happy ending might make your story seem forced. Not good. Go with your gut. Good luck!

  3. I attended a writing seminar once entitled "I'm So Tired of the Victory: Restoring Proper Sadness to Story." Amen then and now.

  4. I'd personally rather read a sad short story than a whole "sad" book anyway, Christa. I think the short story idea is a great one. Power on, Sister!