Short Story Challenge: The Happy Story

Is it that unhappy people are drawn to writing that we never get a happy story?  Or that most people aren’t really happy?  How often do you read a story populated by even one happy person?  Maybe the question should be, do you know any happy people at all?  For most fictional characters, if they ever experience happiness, it’s brief, and they end up questioning their happiness more than anything.  Most stories end with only the hope of future happiness.  Endings come too soon for happiness to occur, perhaps because the writer worries that if the story progresses towards the moment when happiness is reached, the reader, bored to tears, has already moved on to something else.  So maybe it’s not the writer’s fault at all, but the reader’s.  Maybe readers aren’t happy, and read only to prove to themselves that no one is happy and the act of reading is vindication for being unhappy.

Of course, there are logistical reasons for unhappy stories, the biggest being that it’s difficult for a story to occur without some sort of conflict.  Tension—stories are supposed to have that, right?  The tension might not actually exist within the happy story at all but between the (unhappy) writer crafting the happy story, the (unhappy and, while reading, incredulous) reader of the happy story, and therefore directly between the writer and reader, but hey, that’s for the critics and theorists to hash out.

So, here’s the challenge: write a story about happy people becoming happier.  Points will be deducted for irony.

Sean Conaway’s work has appeared in Arcadia Magazine and the American Fiction Anthology.  He’s currently working on a novel that he hopes one day you will read.

2 thoughts on “Short Story Challenge: The Happy Story

  1. Polly, this challenge is mostly for fun – but if you’re interested, submit what you write in response to the journal!

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