I got it. I got it bad. I got short-story fever.
I’m not the only one. At work, two other cats — Riske and Richardson — also have short-story fever. Real bad. In recent weeks, both of them have seen their short fiction accepted by online literary journals. Meanwhile, I just shipped off a tale about degenerate activities to a journal that, well, loves that kind of thing. And so the three of us can be found at different points in the day (during lunch, between meetings, after work, etc.) talking about short stories — about our own, about others.
You ask me, and I’d say one of the great things about short stories is the far more immediate emotional payoff for the writer, compared with novels. A short story can be written in an evening, and the chance of soon-after sharing it with the reading public is, of course, far greater than it is with a novel. And of course, as a writer, there’s so much freedom with short stories — one can write a compelling piece without getting into geographic locations, last names, character backstory, family members, or any number of other things that usually warrant the writer’s attention in a novel. And because readers are more likely to give an unusual protagonist or storyline a few minutes of their lives (compared to hours and hours of their lives with a novel), I think you can take so many more risks with a short story.
I still love writing novels. In fact, I heard back from my literary agent last week that my next novel is promising and that I should definitely keep working on it. I’m thrilled, so I’m making a point to focus on the novel. But I have to admit that these short-story ideas keep popping up in the back of my head, begging to be written. I just tell them, “I’ll write you; it’ll just be a while.”
Anybody out there with similar problems? How do you handle it, strike that balance?
June 19, 2008 at 10:39 am
Yeah: the fever!
June 19, 2008 at 5:40 pm
Short stories are alive and well.
June 20, 2008 at 5:39 am
I have no balance. I write shorts when I want to and usually in binges. I have to be a bit more measured and balanced when I’m writing novels, but I’m like you, I like that flash and pop of short stuff.
June 27, 2008 at 6:15 am
Prefer writing the novel to the short form: I liken it to being a marathon runner as opposed to a sprinter – definitely a different skill set.
Still, I appreciate the immediacy of validation that comes from getting a short story accepted.
June 27, 2008 at 10:19 am
I’m working on a new novel now and pitched one at the Agents and Editors Conference in Austin this past weekend, but I blend short fiction into that process. When I’m working on a first draft, certain natural breaks occur – usually following the big plot point set-pieces. I’ll often take a week off then to write shorter pieces.
I wrote an article about the conference and posted it at http://www.write-your-short-story.com/conference. It’s long, but comprehensive. The whole weekend was incredible.
July 15, 2022 at 9:39 pm
Thhank you for sharing this