By Jenny Hilborne
I don’t what you were expecting, but I’m talking about short stories. How popular are they?
Until recently, I’d never been much of a fan, the main reason being there’s not enough story to become vested in the characters. The few I’d tried to read were poorly developed and left me cold. I imagined it must be harder to write a short than to write a novel; for me it would be like attempting a sprint when I’m a long distance runner. I write full-length novels, where I have pages and pages to develop my plots and characters.
Recently, a story idea popped into my head, a simple concept I didn’t think I could develop into a full novel, but certainly one I couldn't let go, and thought I turn into a short story. Except, I can’t write short stories, or so I thought. Questions immediately arose: how short should it be? What formula, if any, do I have to follow? Do the same rules apply to a short as in a novel? I tasked myself to write the thing, and worry about the “rules” later, if at all. To help the creative process, I poured myself a large glass of wine – it served a secondary purpose in that I could drown my sorrow if I sucked.
Well, color me converted. I loved writing the short, False Pretense, I enjoyed the challenge in attempting a new style, and found it an incredibly liberating exercise, free from the restrictions of writing a full-length novel. For starters, it took me five hours to complete instead of a year. I drank to that (knew the wine would come in handy). I had one simple story line and no complex sub-plots to weave in; few characters; a much shorter timeframe for the course of the events, and discovered I had the makings of a character I could later use in a novel.
I learned a few things. Shorts are a break from routine and a good exercise, a challenge for a writer to try something new, especially new writers daunted by writing a full-length novel and unsure if they have enough material. A short is a quick and inexpensive way to wet a reader’s appetite for a new author.
I’m sure I broke some rules when I wrote my short, but I don’t think it matters. I have a new respect for shorts, and will seek them out to read. Perfect for a busy schedule.
What’s your take on shorts?