Letter 072, pg. 2


“Well, women are women and it is useless to try to change them. He had found out once more.” The scene in which he finds it out, the scene where the woman shows her real character and the man receives a dreadful, tragic disappointment—the scene which takes place between the paragraphs of Part Five and Part Sixthat scene must be written and presented in detail. Then you’ll have a proper short story form. 

I suspect that you won’t like this suggestion because having that scene unstated is very effective. I got a jolt when I read it. But it is the effect produced by an eloquent pause in an intelligent conversation. It is not right in a short story—because the reader has been reading a long general narrative, getting acquainted with the characters and waiting for the climax when he would see them in action. That unwritten scene is the logical climax. If the reader does not see it—nor any other specific scene—he feels cheated. And you cannot choose another scene for a focus, because in a short story it is the crucial scene that must be featured. 

If you make this change, I think you will have an excellent story that will sell. The situation is tragic and very human, the characters are excellently presented, the man is most appealing and will hold the interest and sympathy of the readers. 

I do not object at all to the method of using the “he” and “she,” and giving the characters no names. It underscores the theme—by saying, in effect, that it is not a matter of just this one man and this one woman, but that they are the symbols of a deep tragedy which will always take place between men and women of this nature. I did not find it confusing—except in one minor instance: on page 2, line 4. The sentences read: “But she said yes. So they met and she went to the delicatessen to buy some ready things.” The first “she” refers to the girlfriend, the second to the heroine, and it is confusing for the moment. I would suggest that you change it to: “But the girl said yes.” Keep the “she” exclusively for the heroine—and you will achieve the effect you want without confusion. 

I would suggest that you eliminate the sub-titles of “Part One”, “Part Two” etc., and also the numbering of paragraphs. It is not done in a short story—and it only stresses the impression of the outline of a novel broken into parts and chapters. A short story must be treated as a single unit. You will achieve the same effect by simple paragraph breaks.