The Art of Narrative

Pop Lit Fiction

AN EXAMPLE OF SHORT STORY ARTISTRY

Our new fiction feature is about a church in the woods. A simple story which shows what can be done with the short story by keeping it simple. What matters most with this particular writing genre– the short story– is not how many well-wrought sentences and long paragraphs you can string together as an example of talent– but the form of a particular story. Its construction. Design. Momentum. Flow.

NOT MUCH MORE can be said about this particular tale, “The Narrow Path,” by Zach Smith, without giving away the key to its plot. Suffice it to say it’s in the tradition of classic short stories from when the short story was THE popular American art form. When the form of the story was all. When story endings were the point of the works, as exhibited by masters of the art such as O. Henry, Jack London, or Frank Stockton.

There’s a clue somewhere within the last part of the previous paragraph– about the story’s plot– if you can find it!

(Note: It’s also a Christmas story.)

The church is two stories, taller than it is wide, without a second floor. A taut wire, an inch in diameter stretches from wall to wall, ten feet above the pews, with a second shorter wire intersecting it above the altar.

The door opens for Sunday service, and the congregation files in. The church is open to everyone, but few people come, less and less every year.

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(Art: “Deer in Forest” by Franz Marc; “Indian Church” by Emily Carr.)

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