Forum / Joy Williams: Essential Attributes of a Short Story

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    David Ackley
    Aug 07, 03:44pm

    |Thought I'd share these for whoever's interested.
    They're pretty good I think, but then, so is she.

    Essential Attributes of a Short Story
    from Joy Williams

    1)A clean surface with much disturbance below.

    2) An anagogical level.

    3) Sentences that can stand strikingly alone.

    4) An animal within to give its blessing.

    5)Interior voices which become wildly or erratically exterior.

    6) Control throughout....

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    Rachna K.
    Aug 07, 09:07pm

    Thanks for sharing.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 08, 09:22am

    I actually printed this out and I never do that! This is a great list of six attributes. What does anagogical mean, I ask, before looking it up. The interview with Joy Williams in _The Paris Review_ is a good one. I have yet to buy and plan to buy her book with mentions of 100 and God in the title. A close friend of mine who has since passed away once represented her in a legal matter. Joy Williams subsequently advised her in finishing a difficult short story that was later included in an art book and short story hard cover anthology and in her own collection. The writer I refer to is Carol Novack. I remember that Joy Williams visited Houston to give a reading and meet with us at U of Houston and off campus in the early 1990s.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 08, 05:05pm

    Thanks Ann. I got to know Carol via Fictionaut, a terrific writer who is sorely missed.

    I left off two of Joy William's precepts, because I plain overlooked them and then didn't feel like typing anymore. But here's the link, if you or anyone wants to see them plus the whole interview.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 08, 09:23pm

    Thanks, David.

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    Gary Percesepe
    Aug 08, 10:46pm

    love joy, love the list--- my fav writer in key west (along with ann beattie)

    would anyone care to comment on what is meant by this one?

    5)Interior voices which become wildly or erratically exterior.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 09, 06:26pm

    It's a nice one, isn't it, Gary? It's something to do, I think, with how the voices in people's heads tend to erupt in mid-topic causing the conversation to veer wildly, baffling speaker and listener alike. I mean in her stories, at least. Don't know if anyone else could make it work so well.

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