Intro Music by Fretts!

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Quickies: The Mystique of the Short Story.


What We’re Drinking:

St. Clement Vintner’s Merlot! Ooh, Classy. Normally Merlots aren’t my favorite, I tend toward drier wines. But this wasn’t awful. Nice mouthfeel, fresh cherries.

What We’re Saying:

Tina is with us again!

I’m not great at short stories, I’m going to be honest with you.

You’d think they’d be easy to write since they’re so little, but they many of the same complications of a novel in a much smaller space. And that’s where it gets complicated.

Short stories need sharper focus than novels. If you’re including detail on something, that thing had better be important to the story. If you’re putting in a character, there’d better be a good reason for them to be there.

You only have enough space in a short story to include the things that need to be there.

You don’t really have room for subplots, which are the bread and butter of the novel.

And ideally, once your reader finishes reading your short fiction, they have gotten an entire story in a compact package, complete with beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Too much exposition can leave a reader feeling confused and disoriented in a short story. They might wonder where the story is going, and lose interest.

Tightly managed structure is vital for writing short stories. I don’t personally believe that short stories need to be outlined, but without having outlined a novel I wouldn’t have had the skills in creating structure to save the Marshal Davis story (available in Hot Mess!).

I think the reason I lack these skills is that I was never a reader of short stories. They never were quite enough for me, and they were a huge investment of money as a kid for stories I might not like. So the model of structure that I kind of absorbed intuitively was one that looks like a novel, not something as tight and drilled down as a short story.

Tina talks about Wild Cards, and how heavily that influenced her.

James talks about what an important learning tool short stories can be for new authors; you learn efficient writing, and it’s a fantastic way to learn basic story structure without having to invest the time in a full length novel.

James mentions Escape Pod and Pod Castle, two podcasts that allow you to listen to short fiction while you’re on the go.

Short stories are a way for an author to make money “quickly,” because they can turn over short story after short story after short story, and put them on the market until they sell. This is not something that is new, though I do think the ebook revolution has opened up new horizons for short fiction; it’s actually been around since the days of the pulps.

Writing short stories are ways to test concepts or worlds to see if it’s an idea that you want to explore further, without committing the kind of time that writing a terrible novel involves. It’s a kind of testing ground for stories. We have all written short stories that turned into longer works.

Short stories are considered a smaller investment for publishing companies, and so many new authors want to write novels, it’s a little easier to get short stories published than it is to publish a novel.

That’s not to say it’s easy; you will still get rejected.


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