The Short Story Racing Dilemma

Short Stories and Story Art

The date on this original Short Story, Racing Dilemma, presented BELOW, is 1967. It’s creation was a result of my passionate interest in sports, particularly in Thoroughbred horse racing. The story was one of several sports stories I wrote as I was continuing my writing studies with the Famous Writers School correspondence course out of Westport, Connecticut.

The Roughcraft Artwork presented with the story didn’t come about until much later, when I had decided to create geometric type artworks to accompany my stories.

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Twice, I revised “Racing Dilemma” into a different version; first, babying a desire to not let go of these fictional characters, with a more developed POV from Ellen, and, second, as a fantasy effort that used the POV of the racehorse.

These were experiments and a challenge at the same time to rewrite and explore other story possibilities from a main theme. The fantasy version got high marks from my instructor as a submission for an assignment in my Writer’s Digest School class in “Writing and Selling Short Stories”, 2002.

It all was a simple lesson in expanding one’s writing imagination when tackling short story production.

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The Short Story FALL and Story Awards

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The Newfoundland Ebony, one of my many canine life partners

There always has been a dog in my life — a canine, I mean…

So, it seems a natural thing for my writing to include dog stories. However, I took that to a new level after my kids were grown and gone and I was single again, with a new life partner — a Newfoundland I named Ebony — to help brainstorm my ideas of a dog fantasy.

At the time I began to think in terms of creating a dog fantasy type of novelette, I was working in local factories and feeling like that saying “working like a dog”. Canines and machines slowly but steadily became entwined in my thinking and some of the result was Fall, a short story I submitted to a Writers Digest Short Story contest in 2003. The story was part of a larger work I was continuing to sort out during factory lunch hours.

Fall became my first fiction award-winner.

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The short story Fall follows:

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Fall/helberg/13

The following Monday, Goliath received his final warning. It was for “scrambling in a work area.” He was dismissed, and he left The Big Blackie in tears.

Tuesday, Harold suffered a fatal accident. He was crushed to death in the T-Bone Press, where he had nurtured so many youth.

The End

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(F+W Publications, Inc., 4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236)

 

 

Two story awards have come my way in the last few months, thanks to a generous and encouraging author and editor named Dan Alatorre. He is an award-winning and best-selling author at Amazon.

His anthology The Box Under the Bed, produced in October of 2017, contains my short story Interlock, by his invitation.

This week, Dan informed me that my short story Normal Things was awarded 4th Place, in a tie with two other authors, in his March 2018 Word Weaver’s Writing Contest.

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The Maverick POV Pace

Throughout my writing life, I’ve been a maverick with POV, character point of view. The real problem for me on POV is the fact that I really enjoy using multiple POVs, and that can easily lead to story confusion.

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A maverick’s way to photograph a flower box?

If you consider the following two endings, used in different versions of the same story, you can understand how POV can change things. The first paragraph is the ending from an FBI agent’s third person POV, and the second ending gives the first person POV of a killer.

(FBI agent): “He thought of Julia and Trey, whom he’d had to raise singly following their mother’s fatal cancer, and was warmed by the vista of dirty dishes, scattered rock cassettes, rooms untidy with clothing in need of laundry service, and one, or two, of their teen friends draped across his favorite recliner. Normal things.”

(Killer): “My mind throbbed with those ‘normal things of the day’. The FBI twins had known my name. They hadn’t been thrown off at all. Didn’t matter. It was all done. I smiled.”

The two endings themselves convey a completely different mindset — one positive, one negative — using the prop of ‘normal things’ connected to their different POVs. The agent’s job is crime, but the heart of his life is his home. The killer is happy only to have accomplished his despicable deed.

Now, imagine the story written and completed with both POVs and both voices. And that would be the story I wrote! I understand the importance of not confusing my readers, and sometimes, certainly, I fall short on that with my enthusiasm for writing in my own maverick way, etc.

However, in multiple viewpoint stories, I normally use stars and double spacing to indicate a POV shift, and I stick with that character’s POV throughout one scene before making a switch. Even published wonders Danielle S. and Barbara Taylor B. don’t do that. Their reads include POV switches from paragraph to paragraph, even from sentence to sentence. And yet I love their stories! And that makes me think my way is less maverick-ish than theirs, and so maybe my way isn’t too bad a way, after all.

Now we come to POV with story Pace and story Point. It’s all about the “P” triplets. I understand total, non-stop pace in today’s reading world. Get in, get it, get out. But I needn’t like it, and I don’t. What I don’t understand is not taking the time to browse over a story, to absorb it, to catch its little ironies and corners of thought.

I enjoy interspersing my writing efforts with actual passages of thought. I call it thought-absorption, a tool used to let a reader catch his breath from exciting, break-neck pacing. And I believe that can be used in a short story, as well as in a novel, where, I believe, it actually is recommended. Let the reader breathe now and then between heart-stopping action scenes.

In my own book of writing enjoyment, total pace is just too breathless, and it doesn’t speak of real life, in which we slow down between splashes of action. As in life, I need relief, humor, and thoughtfulness in my reads.

Of course, suspension of disbelief and not droning on and on with scenes of less action are both essential ingredients to good writing. That’s where controlling the pace comes into play. That’s art.

Stories and books are my life-long buddies. I want to enjoy them, take them all in and remember them for the experiences they offer.

It’s difficult for me to relate to a young reader of today who never held a good, hard-back book in his own hands, nor enjoyed the ramifications of leisurely reading, who never even learned to write cursive when he attended grade school, who learned early on that his thumbs should rule his world.

Give me some truth, some beauty, some artful thinking and flow. I’ll try to give the same. I want my readers to think, not just settle for periods of swift entertainment.

And at the age of 72, I don’t want my writing world rocked too much.

A maverick can adjust, can learn, but she can’t tolerate complete reversal of everything writing she’s already accepted and applied in her own way, with her own voice of reason.

My writing life continues unshaken. I love American freedom, baseball, hot dogs, and spice cake and Charles Dickens’ sentences.

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A Christmastide Happy Ending

BAT Publishing Stories

I still like the following short story, one I wrote many years ago when my children were small, because I was able to give it a happy ending, something I have not always lived, nor sought to achieve in my writerly wonderings. Happy endings don’t always happen in real life, and many writers seem to go out of their way to point that out in their work. But there are happy endings in real life, and I, for one, think writing one now and then represents a healthy portion of society as well as the darker conclusions remind us of the world’s strife.

This short story was conceived after a military bombing occurred against American troops overseas. It’s short term focus is on one man’s struggle to accept the life-long repercussions of such an event.

Got a relationship to fix? ‘Tis the season!

Enjoy… Night Dreams, Day Dreams. It is presented here in an abridged edition as first  published at Helium.com in 2010 as a “Nightmares” assignment submission and scanned from its original typed form, with a reduced copy of a piece of my Roughcraft Artwork.

Night Dreams, Day Dreams
By Barbara Anne Helberg

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004My Amazon Author’s Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/bahelberg3-sp-a_17

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Flying High

It’s at Amazon books!

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Scary stuff, as in Stephen King scary, makes up our anthology edited by bestselling Amazon author Dan Alatorre. It’s available at Amazon via paperback, or Kindle edition, and as an audible book.

See my Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/author/bahelberg3-sp-a_17

 

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My first commercially published story, Interlock, appears in this volume!

Our sales hit #1 on Amazon’s list for our category!

Get your copy today!

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InterlockED Chapters

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Paperback and Kindle orders for the scary anthology “The Box Under the Bed” are available at Amazon.

With 19 other authors, I have a short story in that paperback book. My story is titled “Interlock”, and it was written as a short story taken from my Novel In A Nutshell written after I challenged myself to create some kind of scary story in the vein of the work done by the extremely scary Stephen King!

As an exercise in short-story-lengths writing, I shortened “Interlock”, the NIAN, to “InterlockED”, a novelette, then condensed it to the short story of the original name which appears in the anthology.

To learn more about the stories included in the scary anthology, visit Dan Alatorre’s writing blog:
http://www.danalatorre.com/2017/09/02/34540/

Look for chapters of “InterlockED” at my Fans and Gamers blog, here, at WordPress.com:
http://www.fansandgamers.wordpress.com

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It Will Not Be Long

WRITERS wanted for Dan Alatorre’s blog: If you’re interested in writing contests, and, or, anthology writing, check with Dan!

Source: It Will Not Be Long

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