What’s the Situation?

I have a couple of short stories stories I’m working on that don’t seem to be going anywhere. I took a break from spinning my wheels the other day and came across a little section titled “Situation” in the book Creating Short Fiction, by Damon Knight. He writes, “A dramatic situation is unstable—you know it can’t stay this way forever—and it has at least two possible outcomes, one very desirable and one not.” At the end of this short section, he provides an exercise. It is this: Choose three published plotted stories that you like, and for each one write a one-sentence description of the situation (a) at the beginning of the story and (b) at the end. Continue reading