Some peple believe that formatted poems (sonnets or sestinas) are too limiting. I think that part of their art is to write poems within the restrictions of the form. I think the same is possible for short stories.

It would be interesting to read stories written using the following form. It was created by a noted writer, Paul Dean Anderson.


How to Write a Short Story that Will Grip Your Readers!

This is a paraphrase of an informal lecture given by Paul Dean Anderson at the January 1993 meeting of the Rockford Writer's Guild in Rockford, Illinois. Mr. Anderson is a well known writer and co-editor of "2 AM Magazine". This magazine is published in Rockford and focuses on Science Fiction, Fantasy and poetry of the horror genre.

Mr. Anderson preaches having interior problems for your lead characters vice external problems.

 
 FIRST PARAGRAPH: Give your character a THREAT that everyone can
 identify with. It can be a life threat or a spiritual threat. 
 
 SECOND PARAGRAPH: Develop the character and show the character's
 reaction to the threat. This shows a LOT about the character. 
 
 THIRD PARAGRAPH: Throw in a prop. i.e. "the gun on the mantle",
 the stuff that the character is wearing or has in his/her
 pocket, a vehicle, suitcase, etc. 

 FOURTH PARAGRAPH: The second paragraph action did not overcome
 the threat. The character "feels down, wants to give up and end
 it all". 

 FIFTH PARAGRAPH: The threat becomes more specific to the
 character or to someone the character cares about. This is the
 "do or die moment". The character now refuses to "take it
 anymore". 

 SIXTH PARAGRAPH: The character acts intuitively and in character
 but fails to overcome the obstacle. He doesn't save the world
 (as it were). 

 SEVENTH PARAGRAPH: Character realizes that he must make a
 conscious change to solve the problem. The character MUST grow
 and change to face his challenge. The Character MUST make an
 out-of-character decision. i.e. The selfish must do a selfless
 act, the claustrophobe must go into a cave or sewer, the person
 scared of arguments must confront an obnoxious verbal bully. 

 EIGHTH PARAGRAPH: The character must take the out-of-character
 decision and combine it with the prop (see THIRD PARAGRAPH) to
 produce action in the resolution. 
The resolution can be one sentence (as Mr. Anderson is fond of using). The resolution can be as long as you need.

Mr. Anderson challenged the Rockford Writer's Guild to write 500 word stories that would embody this ad-hoc outline above. He later stated that perhaps as much as 2000 words he later stated. Mr. Anderson hinted that these "rules" were somewhat ad-hoc but they flowed forth from him so easily that I had the feeling that they were something he had thought about for a long time!