We discussed the different ways of opening a short story with a bang. It is indeed very important to have a gripping, attention getting opening to keep the reader’s interest alive. But it is equally important to let the opening slip in the effortlessly into a continuing narration. This is called development of the story. Where does the opening end and from where does it develop? An ideal story has no such dividing line. However, one can safely start the ‘developing’ process when the opening Para ends after starting a problem or introducing a character with a problem. Once this is done, you can let the story ‘move’ towards various incidents which only seem to intensify the problem or bring in fresh ones. You go on stressing the innumerable obstacles and the attempts made by the character to overcome them. Always keeping in mind that too many of these may make it impossible for you to solve later.
At the core of the development of a story is conflict; without this a story lacks flavor. This conflict arises out of a series of changes in the fortunes of the character – take the story of a woman who thinks she has a perfectly happy married life. One day, she discovers a hastily written note with feminine scrawl, in her husband’s pocket. This is the first sign of problems in her life. You will have to develop this by giving the conflict various twists – she tries to find out that the person is who has written to her husband. A few days later, she picks up the telephone when it rings and a female voice asks for her husband – there is urgency and a hint of familiarity in the voice. Again, while out shopping, she sees her husband drive past and there is a women next to him. She even sees him patting her shoulder. All these incidents suspicion in her mind that her husband is being unfaithful to her.
As you will see, the reader us all ‘keyed’ up to know who this women is and what is the outcome. But don’t overdo the suspense by going on about mysterious episodes. Too many twists and problems can frustrate the reader. Having built up enough curiosity in the mind of the reader as to how the character will go about resolving his conflict, you must go towards the climax.
The climax is the focal point of interest in a story. All that has been happening so far should lead to this. The conflict must reach its zenith here and the problem ‘solved’. This is very important because the reader feels cheated if there is no final solution in the story.
The climax has also the moral of the story subtly woven into it. The usual moral is of course that good triumphs over evil. If it does not, the reader, who has sympathy for the persecuted good, feels let down, unless the issue involved are too complex to warrant a ‘simple’ solution. The climax must have all loose ends tied – all problems sorted out or nearly so – it should, as Vivian says, “be short, sweet and final.”