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I have to write a short story that illustrates changing perspective. I've decided on a...

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konkonz | Honors

Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:36 PM via web

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I have to write a short story that illustrates changing perspective. I've decided on a plot; where a newly wed girl gets pregnant but doesn't want children because she and her partner can't financially support a family yet. She loves children and is a kindergarten teacher. However, she decides to give the baby up for adoption at birth. Over the course of the nine months she is being constantly persuaded to keep the baby, and receives lovely cards from her kindergarteners. Her friends and family offer their help and support during and after the birth, and during the birth she finds out she is having identical twins; which she sees as a sign of God. She decides to keep the babies and in the end she says all the pain was worth it, and watching her children grow up has made all the difference, and that she doesn't regret a thing. 

Is this a good plot for a story?? First time writing a short story. I'm really stuck on the intro at the moment. I felt like I could describe the process of giving birth using strong imagery, but I'm not really sure of the processes because I'm so young. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks.

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 27, 2013 at 3:23 PM (Answer #1)

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To answer the last part of your question first, I think there are a lot of DVD documentaries that show the whole process of pregnancy and birth in detail. I just checked Netflix very briefly and saw that they have many of these available. One that looks especially good for your purposes is a two-disc set called Pregnancy for Dummies. No doubt you can get some of these at your library. There is at least one DVD dealing with yoga for pregnancy. I have seen documentaries on PBS showing actual deliveries.

As far as your plot is concerned, it strikes me as being a lot to handle in just a short story. It sounds more like the plot for a novel. Also, it seems pretty subjective. You would be stuck with describing what this young woman is thinking. It would be better to have a plot that involved at least two strong characters, so that you would have more dialogue and more conflict. You seem to have left the husband entirely out of your synopsis. She can't get much feedback from kindergarten children. Her reason for giving up her unborn child does not seem sufficiently strong. Her situation is no different from that of millions of other women who get pregnant. So her changing her mind and having the babies will not seem like a significant decision.

It would seem to me that for a short story you ought to start closer to the climax. For instance, she might be consulting an adoption agency at some point when she is, say, six months pregnant, and she might be actually signing papers, etc. I don't think she should be having her change of heart at the very moment she is giving birth.

My main problem with your plot is that it seems to be too long for a short story. You cover a period of nine months, and it is all very subjective. These internal-conflict stories are hard to handle--especially for a beginning story writer. And I think you should consider the husband's point of view. She can hardly give the baby up for adoption if her husband wants to keep it--can she? And if he does want to keep it, then she ought to want to keep it too. I think you are wise to write a brief description of your proposed story and ask for advice; it could save you a lot of frustration if you got into writing the story and found yourself overwhelmed with plot problems.

Incidentally, you ought to read Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants," which is constantly being assigned in lit courses. That involves a conflict over an unborn baby. Or maybe you have already read it? See the reference link below. Hemingway doesn't try to cover nine months but only about one hour.

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