O’Henry :”Secret of Short-Story Writing”

O’Henry :”Secret of Short-Story Writing”

Many writers wonder what the secret of short-story writing was for all those who have successfully written them. “I’ll give you the sole secret of short-story writing, and here it is: Rule 1. Write stories that please yourself. There is no rule 2. The technical points you can get from Bliss Perry. If you can’t write a story that pleases yourself, you will never please the public. But in writing the story forget the public.” O. HENRY This is SO true! Back in 1996, I was joyfully spending hours at a time writing The Great American Novel about the 7 years I spent sailing mostly alone or at times with my teenaged daughter when she was either on break from college or didn’t like the job she had. I was having a blast writing about all the adventures. And then, I was stopped short one night at 1:32AM when the phone rang and her father was calling from Philadelphia to tell me while she was on Spring break from Penn State, Sandi had been run over and killed by a drunk off-duty policeman. She was stopped in a long line of traffic on Interstate 80 because of an accident ahead. She had just stepped out of her car to light a cigarette when the drunk came racing down the shoulder — he was on vacation and didn’t want to have to wait his turn in the backed up traffic. They didn’t even give him an alcohol test because the state troopers said, “Well, he’s an officer of the law and it’s not necessary.” Thank goodness for the coroner who...