Saturday, March 5, 2011

Short Stories...

...have never really been my thing. Perhaps it's the result of all the short stories I was forced to read over the years of my public school education. I always found them to be, well, short and unsatisfying. And most of the short stories I've come into contact with have been either literary fiction or science fiction, both of which are not my genre of choice. And these two kinds of short stories, in my experience, tended to focus more on asking questions and less on answering them. Which drives me totally crazy.

"You're still bitter about The Lady and The Tiger, aren't you?" said my husband. But NO. No, I am not. Yes, it bugged me at the time, but I soon realized that the story was a gimmick and I wrote both it and its author off as not worth my time.(By the way, I recommend never doing a google image search for "The Lady and the Tiger". Just a tip.)

But short stories just don't flesh things out well enough for my liking. They seem, in my experience, to focus on a premise, a single question which they may answer or may leave you wondering about FOREVER AND EVER. I don't like that. I like detail and I like resolution. I want ALL of my questions answered as thoroughly as possible. That's why I've always preferred novels. My writings have always been novel attempts. I've never written a short story before.

But I hear a lot about how I should challenge myself as a writer and try things outside my comfort zone. That's probably good advice. Well, I simply cannot fathom writing in any genre but fantasy. So how can I challenge myself? That's right, I've decided to try my hand at a short story. After all, I think it would be nice to be able to write shorter works, stories and novellas perhaps, set within my fantasy world but not directly connected to my novels. It would give me another tool for fleshing out that world, which as a world building enthusiast, is something I would like to do. And then I could use the shorts and novellas as free or extremely cheap teasers for my novels when I finally get to the point where I can publish something.

With all this in mind, I took the leap and signed up for the Hone Your Skills Blogfest on March 16th hosted by Rosie Connolly at East for Green Eyes and Charity Bradford at My Writing Journey. The idea is to write and post a very short story (750-1000 words) for critique by others participating and to offer your own critique for them. Submitting the story for publication afterward is optional. (I won't be doing that part.)

I've decided to try and write a fairy tale-esque story, though hopefully not as aloof in style as most old fairy tales. This is going to really be a challenge for me because, wow, 750-1000 words is not going to be easy for someone as... loquacious as me. How do you fit a whole story, beginning middle and end, in that few words? I have no idea, but I'm going to try. Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck! I've done a few short stories, but not many. And don't give up on my genre - we don't all pose more questions than answers.

  2. I agree with you about short stories-often they don't seem like stories at all, but just random observations. I recently had to study Katherine Mansfield's short stories, and while the imagery was beautiful, hardly anything happened in them and at the end I was left thinking 'so....what?'

  3. I feel the same as you; I just don't enjoy the short story format. I have written two, just because I feel that selling some would pad an author bio and perhaps help to sell a novel, but I never seem to find time to edit them into workable shape.

  4. I know, Alex. My husband is a huge Sci Fi fan and often reads short story collections. He says the same thing. But as yet, the only Sci Fi short story I have really enjoyed was Nightfall by Asimov.

    Ursula Le Guin has a couple of fantasy short stories that I thought were pretty good too.

    I think if my stories are set in the same world as my novels then I won't have to worry too much about fleshing out details and can focus more on story. Maybe make them more like the myths and folktales of that world.

  5. That is a very good opinion on short stories. They are very hard to do and you are right about Ursula Le Guin and her short stories, they are interesting, haven't read them yet. But I did inspire me to try to create my own book by having some back ground stories for my own novel.

    I know it probably won't be a short story when I'm done. I tried to make my only short story have a beginning, middle, and end, I also was not trying to ask questions on mine, though It isn't a perfect short story and is science fiction, this link Is a piece I wrote, check it out if you want and see what you think. It is one story I wrote that is not really like what you hated about short stories, though it could be.

    Oh and great blog


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