January 27, 2009

Writing Tip 16: Story Elements by Sunny Frazier

Californian Sunny Frazier, author of the mystery, FOOLS RUSH IN, ( Wolfmont Publishing) featuring astrologer and Sheriff's Department employee Christy Bristol, is also an award-winning short story writer.

Whether she's reading, or writing, short stories, Sunny looks for certain elements. These elements can also apply to novels, as well.

Writing Tip 16: Story Elements

Sunny says, "there are three elements I always look for in a short story.

1. The Best Line. "I have my students locate what they believe is the best line. It makes them aware that not every line has to be golden and a writer certainly doesn't want to lose a reader in self-indulgent prose. However, there should be one line that absolutely pops the piece. Like the finest accessory in the closet. This is the line to let readers know 'I'm a writer to be reckoned with.' I love it when I come across a sentence that makes me say, 'I wish I'd written that!'

2. The Universal Message. "Every prize-winning story has one. It should be subtle, not the moral-of-the-story. If a story doesn't have a sub-text, then it has no staying power in the reader's mind. I look for stories that have something I can identify with and will walk away thinking about. Give me a story I have to read twice--once for enjoyment, the second time to go deeper.

3. Tell-Me-Something-I-Don't-Know. "This one element takes a story out of something just conjured in the mind. I want the piece to include a fact that I didn't know. I want to say to someone in a social conversation, 'Did you know such-n-such? I read it in a short story.' It gives authenticating detail to written material. Do your homework, writers."

-- SUNNY FRAZIER is author of the Christy Bristol mystery series. Her first novel, FOOLS RUSH IN, won the Public Safety Writers Best Novel 2007. Her next book, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, also draws on her past work in the Sheriff's Department. It debuts in February '09.

Her short stories have won multiple awards. The latest anthology, NEVER SAFE, features two stories from Sunny, "Ditched" and "Life is a Cabernet."

Author Carolyn Hart says, "NEVER SAFE lives up to its name with dark tales of desire, madness, cruelty and despair. Gritty and gripping."


  1. I loved the writing tips. Will look for Sunny's books.


  2. Sunny is the short story guru.


  3. Great advice, Sunny. And it surely does show in your writing!


  4. Sunny: As one of your students (yet, I hope) these tips go into my writing as well as my conversations! Good of you to share!


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