|Night Light at Apostle Islands|
Photographers: Mark Weller, John Rummel, Ian Weller
Lucky for us Anaea Lay has started the Craft Crucible over on her blog. Every Wednesday she's posting an exemplary story along with her critical breakdown. It isn't about finding fault with great stories, it's about finding out what makes them tick. There are a million different ways for a story to fail and almost as many ways for one to succeed. Sadly, no simple formulas for us writers. Turns out, looking at why and how a story succeeds is just as important as finding out why a broken or unfinished story fails. And the best part about the Craft Crucible is that you can play along too!
Below are some of my thoughts on the stories she's covered so far. I've included links in for the stories, so you can read them first, because SPOILERS. Also, click on the Craft Crucible links to read Anaea's insights!
|And check out Pank while you're at it!|
"It’s well done all the way through, but what brings it to the next level for me, is Grady’s age and persistent innocence. His age and the title seem, at first, to be just a ploy to make the story more poignant, but by the end it projects Grady’s inevitable loss of innocence. Swartwood essentially wrote the first half of the story and invites the reader to become the storyteller, and imagine Grady growing older and coming to understand the terrible solution to the puzzle pieces that these objects in Jason’s jacket represent."
Last Wednesday's story was Consumer Testing by John Greenwood. This one appeared in Bourbon Penn. Here's a snippet of my thoughts for that one. (SPOILERS, for real this time. Do go read this deliciously creepy story first!) Check out Anaea's comments here.
"This story makes me think of J. G. Ballard with its main character who is unable to overcome a cascade of circumstances, and in its unflinching examination of the human dynamic of isolation and abandonment. The father has a pithy saying for every situation, but “Stick with what you know” and “keep yourself to yourself” are the cornerstones of what makes up the family’s philosophy. This is contrasted with his mother’s single opinion, “No good will come of it.” Which the narrator points out has “universal application.”