MemberJune 30, 2020 at 5:51 am
I just read the Ami Pesach story supplement, and I was very impressed. I think what I loved about it was that the stories made me feel like I got somewhere by the end of it, meaning that my heart had opened up and my emotions were stirred and thereby important messages were engraved upon my heart, without any preaching from the writer.
For example, one story was about a mother with an OTD daughter. And then her daughter gets into a car crash…I was crying at one point thinking how it’s so true that we only value people when their life is in jeopardy, or they are already gone ( Acharei Mos Kedoshim Emor…). The vivid descriptions of the mother thinking back to her daughter as a toddler with rainbow pjamas or how the mother hugged her daughter’s red converse sneaker all depicted clearly a powerful message – that a person’s value is not defendant on their actions, or even their middos or level of avodas Hashem- we value and love our children (and spouses, friends, neighbors etc..) unconditionally, and that in turn serves to strengthen their avodas Hashem. All this I got from the story without the writer preaching one bit.
I also noticed that with a short story, it’s a bit too wishy washy to have a perfect happy ending. A person can’t change so fast, and it really takes a novel to explore a significant change in a person and the happy ending that results.
For example, one story in the Ami supplement which was also rather entertaining and funny, was about a woman who found a note in the Kosel written by an older single writing to Hashem for a Shidduch. This woman was trying hard for many years to set up her nephew without success. Her problem was her focus on externals; she was setting up her nephew with girls that neatly fit all the criteria (looks, yichus, good marks, classic good middos…) without regard for her nephew’s need for someone more ‘real’ with a quirky personality. In desperation, she goes out to search for the girl who wrote the note…she doesn’t find her at the end, but it becomes obvious to the reader that this girl was in fact this woman’s coworker, sitting right under her nose, and it never crossed the woman’s mind to set her up with her nephew since that girl was a little out of the box ( although obviously a true a eved Hashem). And, what made the story satisfying was actually the fact that the woman dismisses the shidduch for her nephew, although she seriously considers it for a few minutes first. This shows that change is starting to occur for the main character, and the incident with the note affected her somewhat, but realistically, she wasn’t all the way there. This made me relate to the main character a lot.
I hope this was helpful and hope to hear more thoughts from others on what makes a good short story!