The Girl on the Bed: (Holiday Spectacular Story #33)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.

“The Girl on the Bed”
Dean Wesley Smith

This set of comments are really less a review, and more a reaction. I’m not going to talk about plot at all (except to say the story’s a solid little read), but I am going to focus on craft. If that bores you, well, here’s your refund, have a nice day. See you tomorrow!

That said, here we go:

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is a master class on writing a short story that’s part of a much larger world. The introduction says “The Girl on the Bed” is part of Dean Wesley Smith’s Marble Grant series, which is sometimes a thing that can put a reader off. It can be a tough haul for a writer to find the right balance between giving the reader enough to carry on for now and giving them so much that the reader gets bogged down. Reading a story that’s set in a bigger series can sometimes feel too slight. Or sometimes overbearing.

I’m out on this limb because I haven’t actually read any of the Marble Grant Series prior to this one. But, I’m figuring the limb I’m on is pretty sturdy because, despite not having read earlier work, and despite this being an amazingly tight read (and a fast one at maybe 10 minutes), the thing really holds together.

If you are a writer who writes in series (and if you find it daunting to cut out smaller tales), you should read this manuscript hard. By that I mean line-by-line. Look at how Dean uses exposition. See how his sentences move the story as well as give background. As I read this there were moments where I felt the existence of huge bits of material, but that I’d been given the gift of simplicity in return for keeping this story in line.

So, yeah, master class.

Read it first and enjoy, then read it hard and learn.

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