A Weekend in Atlanta Talking Short Stories

by Paula Gail Benson

Robert Mangeot, Fran Stewart, and PGB (Photo by Charlie Burton)

membership in Sisters in Crime has afforded me many benefits, including
information, encouragement, and camaraderie. I’m particularly grateful to have had
the opportunity to participate in a recent short story workshop sponsored by
the Atlanta Chapter and organized by its President Lisa Malice and Debra
Goldstein. The event took place at the Decatur Public Library, a marvelous
facility with well-equipped auditorium and a patio where those attending could
have lunch and talk with the presenters. It was a true privilege for me to be
on the program with three short story writers I greatly admire, Debra, Kaye
George, and Robert Mangeot.

set an ambitious goal to provide a comprehensive overview of the short story craft
and submission process. While we concentrated on mysteries, we were delighted
to have writers of literary fiction and other genres participating.

Debra Goldstein (Photo by Robert Mangeot)

got us started with a description of the short story and an extremely effective
analysis of how to develop conflict through phrasing and action. Robert brilliantly
covered setting, character, and dialogue in a single segment that incorporated the
use of Gone with the Wind to
illustrate his points. Kaye and I took on the challenge of jointly teaching plotting
strategies and discovered that our approaches and preferred structural models offered
some interesting alternatives for putting together a story.

lunch, Kaye explained how revision and editing were essential in developing a
marketable manuscript. I followed up with some exercises to get the creative
juices flowing. I’m pleased to report that the group left with almost everyone
having written a six-word story a la
Ernest Hemingway’s “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Robert finished up the
day with a wonderful method for pursuing publication and left us all with the
inspirational question: “What is your dream?” By telling us about his own
writing journey and encouraging us to consider what we truly wished to achieve,
he sent us forth excited about the possibilities.
PGB and Kaye George (Photo by Robert Mangeot)

participants were so enthusiastic, it became infectious. We exchanged a lot of very
helpful information.

I am
particularly grateful to Lisa Malice and her husband Lou for their generous
hospitality. Kaye and I were fortunate enough to stay with them for the
weekend. Not only did we get to enjoy Lisa and Lou’s lovely home, fabulous
food, and great conversations, but also we had a terrific time practicing our
presentation and catching up.

Thank you to the
Atlanta Chapter for taking the time to focus on the short story. I appreciate
my fellow presenters so very much. I always learn from each of you and I value
our friendships. Finally, many thanks to all those who attended. May you find
the success in writing that you are seeking!

16 replies
  1. Paula Gail Benson
    Paula Gail Benson says:

    We would have loved to have you there. If your ears were burning, it's because you were mentioned often!

  2. Kaye George
    Kaye George says:

    Your report is much more thorough than mine! Thanks, Paula. (You didn't mention the pajama party. Should I not mention it either?)

    Art, I know I mentioned you!

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Kaye, I almost did. Yes, let's mention it. It was part of the fun. So glad we had that time to spend together!

  3. Kaye George
    Kaye George says:

    Someone should set up a short story conference. We'd have to find an area where there are a number of writers interested in that form. No, NOT volunteering! Just musing.

  4. Unknown
    Unknown says:

    Sounds like a fun and informative conference. I love those things, and it's my goal to get to a writers conference and retreat in 2017. I hope your next post might go into detail about some those exercises you did. Always room for more writer's craft.

Comments are closed.