Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the fifteenth in this series. This week’s review is of 1,546-word story The Outside World (which comes from his collection ‘The City Heroes & Other Stories from the Heart of Africa’) by children’s author Omoruyi Uwuigiaren.
One of the first things we’re taught as a writer is to avoid clichés and this story opens with one of the classics ‘dead as a doornail’. Whilst some of the language is a little flowery for adult readers, I can imagine children finding it charming as it’s not talking down to them but with them as they read.
I’m actually a big child myself, loving anything animated, and this story would make a good short film.
The characters in this piece are animals (cats) rather than humans but it doesn’t make them any less human and they are in fact very eloquent which adds charm to the writing. The names Ruyi has chosen for them are great, with Dag, Fred and Pork amongst them.
Like all good stories we have a dilemma early on and they discuss their predicaments and possible solutions.
It’s very hard to avoid ‘telling’ in any form of writing but there are some times when the dialogue is enough. For example, when we learn by what he is saying that Pork is alarmed so we don’t also need to be told that he is.
What Ruyi does well is let us learn of the human behaviour from what the cats are saying about them and the humans’ actions (not pleasant) and that makes the piece all the more realistic.
Any reader should learn / be entertained / moved by their stories they read and I’d say this has all three. By what is said of the cruelty, yet not told in a direct fashion so as to scare younger readers, it should hopefully be impressed on them that this is not acceptable and if they care about the characters they will care about animals in real life. It’ll certainly make me listen closer when I’m walking past a group of cats when I’m out for a walk next.
Writing for children is clearly Omoruyi’s comfort zone and if the rest of his collection is anything like this story, you’ll be in for a treat.
Thank you Omoruyi for inviting me to read your story.
Omoruyi Uwuigiaren’s writing achievements include articles, cartoons, editorials and nine books. Guardian, Vanguard newspapers, Town Crier Times, Moronic Ox Literary and Cultural Journal, the Publicist International and other literary journals have published his works.
The book which this story comes from his collection ‘The City Heroes & Other Stories from the Heart of Africa’ which is available at http://www.open-bks.com/library/moderns/the-city-heroes/author.html, and Omoruyi blogs at http://omoruyiu.blogspot.com.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I review stories of up to 2,500 words on this ‘Short Story Saturdays’ feature. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Next up is my author spotlight of novelist and children’s author Barbara Ebel, then the blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction author and White House correspondent Fred Lucas – the five hundred and forty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.