Tag Archive for: readings

Selected Readings

by Bethany Maines

This week I’m going to take part in a live reading event
called Noir at the Bar.  It’s a fun event
that focuses on crime tales and the forties pulp-fiction style.  I’m excited to participate, but as usual it
throws me into a tizzy of what to read. 
Short stories come in all shapes and sizes but reading for an audience
is quite different.  Not every story
translates well to an audience that’s slurping their way through cocktails and
appetizers. I would, of course, love an audience to hang breathless on my every
word, but even when an audience comes specifically to see an author it’s very
hard to get that level of studiously quiet audience participation. 
Through the variety of readings that I have experienced I’ve
developed the theory of “joke” short stories for readings.  Not that a reading has to be funny, but that
it should be constructed like a joke.
There is the set-up. 
A man walks into a bar
at the top of a rise building.  It’s a
swanky place, but there’s a guy in a suit and glasses slumped at the bar.

The tale. 
I can’t believe this
view,” says the man, looking out the window.
“Yeah, but you’ve got
to look out for the cross-winds.  They’re
killer,” says the drunk guy, brushing a curl of dark hair off his forehead.
“What are you talking
about?” asks the man.
The drunk guy stumbles
off his bar stool.  “Here I’ll show
you.”  He opens the window and steps out,
but the winds sweep in and he simply hovers in air and then steps back into the
“Holy cow,” says the
man.  “I can’t believe that.”
“Give it a try,” says
the guy in glasses.

The pay-off.
The man steps off the
building and plummets to the ground.  The
bartender looks up from polishing the glasses as the drunk guy sits back
down.  “Jeez, Superman, you are mean when
you drink.”

The story has to have a pay-off or the audience sort of
stares at you like cows in a field.  It
doesn’t have to be a funny pay off, but there has to be some sort of solid finish
that gives an audience a feeling of conclusion.  Usually, it’s some sort of twist that reveals the truth or that gives the audience the
key to understanding the story. I’ll be reading a condensed version of a short story from my Shark Santoyo story.  Hopefully, Noir at the Bar enjoys what I’ve selected for
them.  Wish me luck!

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, Tales
From the City of Destiny
, San Juan
Islands Mysteries
, Shark Santoyo
Crime Series
, and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to
exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in
karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working
on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on YouTube,
Twitter and Facebook.