I’m a novel-girl. I’ve never been able to write very good short stories … I find them limiting to my wide ramblings and mania to get every detail known. : ) However, although I don’t find them as satisfying as novels, the genre has always intrigued me. After all, an hors d’oeuvre can be as beautiful and memorable as a full meal. I’m always on the lookout for short stories that pack a punch -- for example, the one I thus far think the best: “The Pearl” by Isak Dinesen. (At least I believe I think it the best … Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Ambitious Guest” is positively haunting.) As memorable as these are, I still had to look up the titles of both of them!
Even though certain details are forgettable, these authors did super well at coming up with a powerful concept that just would not be as absorbing if developed into a full-length novel.
I’ve written about four or five short stories, but I wouldn’t call any of them publishable. But recently, as part of my writing class, I did write one with the hopes of seeing it published sometime. To help me get started, I referred to this awesome, excellent, very comprehensive article by Joy, called "The Art of Short Story Writing" on Elizabeth Rose’s blog Living on Literary Lane.
I thought for a day and a half to come up with an idea and message that would be best said by a short story … something that would enter into the reader’s heart quickly, before they knew what had hit them. That’s a bit of what I believe a short story should be like. I came up with an idea that seemed to fit the bill … admittedly I have yet to have anyone else read it, but if it doesn’t work I hope it’s the narrative’s fault and not the idea! As for the narrative, I hope it’s good enough to be tweaked instead of scrapped.
With my ingot of an idea in hand, I sat down to hammer it out, writing down anything that came to mind to make it a fully-developed story -- basic plot, characters, setting, back story -- and one evening wrote about 1,070 words. Wow! Did that feel good! It took me several thinking sessions and two more writing sessions before whoosh! I finished it last Sunday night. From idea to the last sentence, it took me about 9 days, and only 3 days of actual writing. It was so fast, and yet so satisfying, that this short-story business might be addicting!
Once I have some opinions on my short story, I’ll share the title and a bite-size synopsis.
What is your experience with short stories? Do you read them, write them, and love them, or do you hate them? Do you have any good advice?