Friday, July 1, 2016

You. I. Us. Tour - guest post by Annalisa Crawford

You. I. Us. is a collection of vignettes, small scenes which hint at the story beneath.

Annalisa has taken that idea to another level, because she asked 15 bloggers to ask her one question each, creating small insights into her life and writing.

What is one element that every good short story needs and why? 

Hi Christine, great question, and one that I’ve re-answered several times—I’ve gone through strong central character, hook, killer first line… But actually I think that a good short needs a story. I’ve read a few—not many, thankfully—which are anecdotes or over-long jokes with punchlines. A short story should be crafted with the same care as a novel, because the reader deserves the same satisfaction that a novel provides.

Sometimes, writers think short stories are an easy option, or a stepping stone to novel writing. It can be a stepping-stone, but it’s definitely not easy.

The short length means that every word counts, there’s no room for deviation or tangents, and the ending has to make perfect sense—especially if it’s a twist ending that you’re attempting, all the elements should be in place so you’re not tricking the reader (similar to Chekhov’s gun, if it’s used in the third act, you need to show it in the first—I always think of it in the reverse to how he’s quoted). 

Because it’s so short, the reader only started reading the story a few minutes ago—they haven’t had time to forget that plot point you fudged and hoped no one would notice.

In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”

Buy the book:

About the author
Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child.


  1. Definitely agree, Annalisa. Writing a successful short story isn't easy. I always think you don't want too many characters either.

  2. Short stories aren't easy. You have to make everything come together quickly.

  3. Christine - thanks so much for hosting me on my final day :-)

    Suzanne - oh yes, trying to figure how too many characters makes my head ache!

    Alex - I think that's why some writers start writing a story and find it's much longer than they expected.

  4. Good post. I know in flash fiction story there is no room for any real development so the focus is what the characters wants most/goal, maybe 1 to 2 conflicts-it gets bad and then worse and that ends in a twist or ironic way. It is a complete story with begin, middle, end that equals a small scene. It can be fun to try to accomplish that and make it interesting too.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  5. Great points. Thinking of it as a condensed novel really helps, even when it's a vignette as in your book - it has to function as a complete whole.

  6. Happy to host you today, Annalisa! I completely agree with you about how important the story is in a short story. It's not easy to get it right, but when you can, wow, it can blow you away.

  7. good finish to the blog tour and the crux of Annalisa's writing is her skill in truly telling a full story in a short block. Her hard work shows and every word does count. Thanks

  8. I haven't tried the short story form yet. Perhaps after I master the long story--assuming I ever do.

  9. Great advice. Definitely agree with you. I think one of my pet peeves is when I read a short story collection, and every single short story has to end with that snappy zinger of a twist, like some kind of punchline. One after another after another. That kind of ending is nice in a short story, sure, but at a certain point turning it into this kind of repetitive formula just seems lazy.

  10. This is so true, Annalisa. Even short stories need to be set up. Regardless of genre, a reader should be able to go back into the story and find the set-up. I write YA short stories and have had some published in Cricket Magazine, most recently the July 2016 issue. The Chekov’s gun scenario is the best advice an author can receive. I've shared this post online and will connect with you, Annalisa. Thanks so much, Christine, for hosting this post and sharing this with your followers. All the best, ladies!

  11. Juneta - the character should definitely want something, that's a really great tip to keep in mind.

    Nick - yes, that's good advice Nick :-)

    Joanne - aw, thank you!

    Ken - I don't think even the most successful writers would say they've mastered their chosen form. That's what makes it such fun, we keep learning!

    A Beer... - yes, a collection should vary a little. Sometimes the twist ending can be over used.

    Victoria - thank you for sharing :-)

  12. Great interview, very insightful! :)

  13. A wonderful interview. I've heard that about short stories - making every word count.

  14. Great Interview. Love the cover of Annalisa's book!!!

  15. Great guest post, Annalisa! I completely agree about short stories needing to be crafted with care. I've read some shorts before that felt more like prologues, which was incredibly unsatisfying...

  16. Mark - thank you :-)

    T.F. - definitely, there's no room for tangents!

    Cathrina - thank you, I love it too.

    Heather - if you care enough to read the story, you deserve an ending :-)

  17. Congrats to Annalisa! And great question Christine!

  18. That's what I find so difficult about short story writing. A story has a beginning, middle and (satisfying) end. It's so hard to fit all of that into 20k words or less.


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