A Short Story

When I sit down to do some writing, I want to work on a novel so short stories aren’t really my thing. There’s something about the complexity and scale of a novel I find appealing in a way that a short story simply can’t fulfill. However, I do have a few on my blog and this particular one was the first real short story I wrote.

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I had to come up with a cover since I made it available on Feedbooks.

So why did I write this one three and a half years ago? Well, a couple of reasons. Off and on, I toyed with the idea of a science fiction story set on a tidally locked world in orbit about a red dwarf star. In my head was a place where two civilizations developed on the day-side and night-side with a hostile strip of twilight between them. The two sides developed different philosophies and the story comes from an individual crossing over. So that was the idea lurking in the back of my head that wanted to get out somehow.

Then came the prompt, literally. A website I frequent had a short story challenge that fit my idea, so I decided to write a short story. At a smidgen over ten thousands words, it isn’t all that short, and even then the ending can make some readers wanting to know more. However, I had to find an end or write a novel, so I picked a moment of change for the main character. It doesn’t really satisfy the idea I had, so maybe one day I’ll write a novel based on what I’ve started with this story.

Sigh, even when I do write a short story, I tend to think novel.

If you’d like to read this story, it’s available on my website here or in various e-book formats from via Feedbooks. Some people like it and some people don’t. I’m not afraid to share it, but it does have it’s weaknesses.

When it comes to reading, I can certainly enjoy a good short story. Still, it’s not something I go seeking out. Maybe I like to get to know a character and stick when him or her through through more than five thousand words. Maybe I like a more complex plot than can be imparted through a shorter medium. There’s something about novels I really like.

So, maybe I’m not a short story kind of guy, but I do admire people who are good at writing them. It takes a special skill to draw in a reader with an economy of words and make him or her feel something in only a very few pages. I certainly wouldn’t mind having more of that ability.

Are you a short story writer or reader? What do you like about shorts that a novel just can’t give you? Or conversely what does a novel give you than a short can’t? I’d be curious to read some thoughts.

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2 Responses to A Short Story

  1. Beth Turnage says:

    I write short stories and novels. I also do freelance assignments, and blog posts, newspaper columns and whatever else someone wants me to write. I write my school papers in a day, complete with citations and in a way that makes its seems I have a good grasp of the subject, and promptly forget everything I wrote once I turn it in. Give me a word count and what you want and I’ll turn it in a day if you need it that fast. Hell, I’ll stay up all night to get it done if that what it takes.

    I don’t write enough short stories. I’m too involved with my current set of novels. But the discipline of the short story is different from that of a novel. In a short story you say it in as few words as necessary, with flair and style and with a point to drive home if you can possibly manage it. With short stories you must lie, always. You have too few words to develop an idea completely, so you have to use tricks of light and shadow to make it all seem real.

    Short stories are the tissue paper of the literary world. They don’t pay as much and you have to spend more time shopping one short story around than one book. If you write it, you do it for the pleasure of it. But when you do write a good one it is a work of art and you take pleasure from that too.

    Novels are the complete opposite. You spend as many words as possible developing one idea. You build worlds, or borrow heavily from the world you live in. You create whole people with backstories to the day they were born even if the reader doesn’t know any of it. You walk around in your created people’s skin for hours at a time. Their heartaches become your heartaches (or maybe they were your heartaches to begin with. You just hang them on these poor people.) Your novel is an onion. You have to peel away the layers to get to the heart of the story. You write one layer, and it has to be true. But you get to the next layer it has to be as true as the first. You have to be unfailingly honest in your novel because any untruth will glare up at your reader and you’ll drive them away. And just because you have to use many words that doesn’t give you license to waste them. You’ll bore the reader. Finishing a novel is like closing a chapter in your life, because it is exactly that. Its a release you take pleasure in because the damn thing is out of you and you can move on. But you’ll miss that place too, because of what your learned about yourself and life in the process. And we reward people for their novels financially, if you can get your book published.

    We honor novelists. “Hey, he/she wrote a book!” We don’t honor the short story writer as much as we should, because I tell you, its harder to write a good short story than blather on for 90,000 words about why our childhoods sucked.

  2. The few shorts I have written were always with the idea of eventually turning them into a novel, so nope, not really a short story type of girl! :)

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