The Appeal of the Short Story

In honor of short stories, this post will be rather short.

Ernest Hemingway, the master of the short story. Pretty good lookin' dude.

These past few weeks have been a continuing adventure in my journey to learn how to write short stories. Now that I’ve sunk my teeth into the genre (does it count as a genre?), I feel as though the doors have opened for me. Floods of ideas have come rushing through these doors, and I’m hopping from project to project unsure what to work on next. I think the appeal of short stories for me as an author is that they don’t require as much time. They defintely require the same amount of skill and dedication and zeal as a full-length novel, but in the end, five thousand words take a lot less time to write than fifty thousand. Hence why I wrote a short story in a day and was able to edit and add to it about five times in the past month. In the meantime, I can’t even finish a novel in three years. Poor, pitiful me.

No, I’m not giving up on Into the Flames, not by a long shot. It is still going to be publishing in March 2012 come hell or high water (unless Aaron says otherwise), and I am very excited about it. But short stories are a great way to polish up my writing skills (and self-editing skills!) on days when I feel like writing but not like dedicating myself to a long-term project. And I’ve recently (as in, last night) picked up some¬†Ernest¬†Hemingway to give myself a good example. the back cover says that Hemingway is “the undisputed master of the short story form.” You can’t beat that now, can you?

I’ve received generally favorable reviews concerning my current short story, which I know is not an accurate poll since all these people know and like me, but still, it gives me confidence. I would be tempted to share it with you, but that would be cheating. You will have to wait until it is published.

What? you ask. Your short story is going to be published? Why yes. It is. In the Consortium’s speculative fiction short story magazine. More information pending.

I would like to add as a post script that this short story is set in a fictional world that I have been working on for a long time but not many people have had the chance to see. So sometimes I chuckle at my cleverness for referencing something from this world and nobody knows what I’m talking about. And I don’t like having private jokes with myself, so I guess I better work harder on getting it out there to you all so you can appreciate my genius with me.

Okay, so this didn’t turn out as short a post as I had originally intended. But anyway, short stories! What’s your opinion of them? Would you read a speculative fiction short story magazine? Or do you think that short stories are like poetry–to be admired but not read? (I either made that up or I’m misquoting Mark Twain.)

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3 Responses to The Appeal of the Short Story

  1. Joshua Unruh says:

    Yeah, they take a lot less time to write, but DANG do they take nearly as much time to get RIGHT.

    More on this in my own blog post on this subject, but it was definitely a massive challenge to a) come up with a short tale and then b) present it in such a way as to maximize the impact of the few words. I’m not sure I have the energy to do this on little bits here and there! Novels are more satisfying.

    Well, so far. I guess the magazine will give me lots of opportunities to find out for sure.

  2. Laura Morgan says:

    I really like short stories. If you’re looking for other masters, I consider Joyce Carol Oates and Octavia E. Butler to be in that category. I enjoy Oates’s collection Dear Husband. She has some thought-provoking and creepy ones about mothers who kill their babies. The only actual short story by Butler I’ve read is “Speech Sounds.” It’s dystopian science fiction about language and communication.
    I’m eager to hear about this speculative magazine!

    • jessie says:

      Dystopian science fiction about language and communication? Sounds thrilling! Thanks for letting me know; I’ll definitely have to check those out.