I submit the following post on behalf of Ross at Play, who for technical reasons apparently can't do so at the moment.
Ross at Play:
This was drafted before I saw your post identifying physical limitations.
I thought you'd like to see my comments when I thought you have still have ambitions of becoming a dead-tree-published author.
BTW, you're welcome to contact me, but current technical problems mean it can only be by sending an email to email@example.com.
I read your opening post, looked at your author page, and concluded you started writing fiction about a year ago. I now know you were already a very accomplished author – in my book that includes anyone who has ever sold any fiction to any strangers, however few.
I looked for your shortest story, The New Field, and picked it because it was posted recently. Your genre is NOT my taste. I sincerely enjoyed it. It flowed. The dialogue sounded natural. You cared enough to ensure it had no errors which jarred. It told a story.
What more can be expected in only 700 words? … the characters of the two MCs are established, a crisis, a resolution, and a … morality tail. Well done!
I gave it one of my full-scale edits. Please send your email address to my SOL inbox so I can send that back as an attachment.
I stopped after 500 words. I would only have found more examples of similar types of things if I had continued.
I think you've got the concept of minimalism right. It's not an end in itself. If it's done right, readers don't notice the specific change you have made. They finish reading it more quickly and the pace seems a bit faster. They won't know how; but they know it was executed very well.
I fully support some points CW has already mentioned:
_* It's best to avoid using the word "style" on these forums whenever possible. Someone here will already have reached for their gun before the period which ends your sentence. :) Prefer the term 'voice' for what you meant in the OP.
_* Minimalism is a valid choice for your primary voice, and it's definitely suitable for your genre, but it must not be your only voice. Listen to what CW says about pacing. I paraphrase his idea this way: good storytelling, certainly once you reach novella length, needs sections in between your action scenes written with a slower and contemplative voice.
_* CW joked it's best you avoid complex sentences altogether. Don't do that. You need to be a master of long and complex sentences too – when your stories need them. You need to understand the expression 'right branching' and know how to do that.
_* I detected only one major problem with your voice: repeating words too closely. CW is always willing to do small tasks to help authors who are serious about quality to develop their skills. Ask him to run the Autocrit analysis software for repeated words on some of your stories.
_* I agree with CW that short stories are an ideal way for authors to learn how to write. But please don't give up too soon on the dream of someday writing the Great American Western.
Writing short stories early on helps authors develop the skill set to write anything. Have you heard the quote including the words "million words before"? I think I'm approaching my million practicing with everything I write, however small or insignificant. I do my utmost to only ever create fine works of literature. Most of my practice has been on this forum. Is this post not literature? Does it serve its purpose admirably as well as being a delight to read just for the way it is written?
I began writing less than two years ago. I thought I was learning grammar and punctuation; I was learning to think about how to best express my ideas while I was writing first drafts. I am banging out the first draft of this very quickly. Even my first draft will be clearer, more interesting, and technically correct than most here could manage. The fine-tuning will not take long, for things like minimalism, parallel structures, finding a better order for ideas or phrases, more precise prepositions and tenses, …
I have been learning how to write very well. Those are skills that can be learned. Along the way I've picked up numerous things that are specific to fiction. Those are skills that remain a life-long struggle for the very best of authors. (Any who think they've "got it" are already sliding downhill!)
I suggest learning how to write (anything!) should be the first priority of developing authors. It does not take long if they are always serious about doing the best they can.
You are close.
These are the things I detected in my detailed edit of your story.
The Grammar Nazi in me found five missing commas, one missing hyphen, one incomplete sentence, and one comma that is mandatory in formal writing but best omitted in fiction.
The missing commas I suggest are needed, not because some guide says so, but because IMO including them is a kindness to readers, asking them to pause and regroup before starting on something quite different that will follow.
The hyphen I would use is 'twenty-dollar gold coin'. The chances that could cause ambiguity are zero! I still choose to use hyphens in situations like that to establish the trust of my readers – so that when they see something unhyphenated in the future they will not wonder whether I really intended the different interpretation possible if a hyphen was present.
I do not say it is not perfectly valid for an author to adopt a style when they omit hyphens provided they assess there is no chance of ambiguity. If they are careful and competent enough I find the results of that approach very satisfying; I recommend less skilled writers, including myself, play it safe and use hyphens when the rules of formal writing say they are required.
The incomplete sentence I suggested should be fixed because the sentence was too insignificant to even consider using any literary device.
The minimalist in me thought you'd done well. I still found literally dozens of additional "savings" you might consider. But, this must always be the author's preference. For some I have suggested, you certainly should choose the longer form because it conveys some nuance or stress you want a bit better.
I suggested a couple be corrected the other way! I include an almost routine use of contractions in my style of minimalism. I suggested you change "I've" to "I have" in two sentences. I assess the meaning of 'have' in those sentence significant enough to justify the full word which has the effect of giving it some extra emphasis.
As I've already mentioned, I was irritated by the number of times I found the same word used several times in a short paragraph. There's a difference between some things you've done and parallel structures. Those use repeats of some words – in exactly the same way – to establish the pattern which allows other words to be inferred rather than repeated.
The KISS advocate in me adored your default sentence structure: subject, verb, and the rest. Yes, there are many valid reasons for not using that structure, well Duh!, but I believe you should have a reason for not using it whenever you do not. I thought valid reasons did exist every time you did not use simple sentence structures.
The poet in me loves your ear for the appropriate use very short sentences. My edit comments include (1) using a three-word sentence to end this paragraph was the ideal choice to make, and (2) the length of this paragraph is perfect: two words.
Be careful not to overdo that with too many, too close together. Sometimes, for variety, find two closely related ideas and join them with 'and'.
In my never humble opinion, Hemingway's assessment of this story would be, "Keep on working at it. You have obvious potential."
* * *
Before anyone else points this out, you cannot treat my opinions as facts. Bear in mind that two years ago you were an accomplished author and I have never heard of an Oxford Comma. However, I think you can use the quality of my posts here to judge my credibility for yourself. The specific question your OP raised happens to have hit what I consider the sub-field of writing I have a gift for and have developed into a talent. I will NOT presume to advise you on the vast range of topics I would group under good storytelling.
Finally, this piece of literature, 1400-words long, took me exactly three-and-a-half hours to write my draft and complete my revision process. That level of productivity is the main reason why I recommend new authors concentrate on learning to write first – i.e. learn to think as you write. If you do that you'll be much more productive, as well as better, for the remainder of your fiction writing career!