The Short Story

For many years, authors began their careers writing short stories. We would seek out publication in the plethora of magazines searching for such tales to entertain their readers. Then came the twenty-first century, and those magazines began to vanish, lost to the internet’s growth. Readers demanded stories that were online and easily available, but the payment for such stories was little to nothing. The art of the short story also began to disappear, as authors concentrated more on their books and forgot the lessons they’d learned with the short story.

With this loss of the short story came another problem. Authors forgot the lessons learned—how to tell a tale with a minimum of words. Instead of tight writing designed to capture a reader’s interest in seconds, we became verbose. Descriptions went from tight as a drum to lengthy and wordy. Instead of showing a reader the beauty of a scene in five to ten words, we expanded to a story of many paragraphs of beautifully written prose that didn’t contribute to the plot, and we demanded that grandiose method be accepted by readers.

In recent months, authors such as James Patterson have again begin to embrace the short story. They proclaim it’s the way for writers to provide their fans with a quick glance into their work while awaiting the next novel.  Now, suddenly, what more than a few authors have known for many years is the current method. Instead of laboring away on our next novel, while promoting the ones we already have available, writers are offering their short tales for a small price on Amazon and other sales venues providing literature.

The short story is a great method for you to give your fans and potential new readers a glimpse into your style. They can read your work while standing in line at the store or commuting to and from their jobs. A story that only takes fifteen minutes to peruse could earn you a fan who will seek out your work and tell others about it. You, the author, have a new lesson to learn in this internet controlled world of selling your next book.

How to capture and hold a reader’s interest in less than ten to twenty pages.

Where do you go to learn how to write the short story?

You go into your heart and develop a story that’s a moment in time, a fast glimpse into your main character’s life. It can be a day, an hour, even a few minutes. The action has to be condensed into a tale that not only has a beginning, middle, and end, but also tension that never releases the reader. Forget about the extensive detailing found in novels. This is your time to show how spare you are with words. Let one do the work of ten or a hundred.

Are you up to the challenge?

I know I am. For me, short stories are my way of shaking out the wrinkles in a difficult novel, of learning more about my characters. And I plan to keep on writing these gems.


Cyn Ley said…
I live and breathe short stories--for me, the challenge is writing something novella-length! Writing a micro-cosmos just comes easier to me, as novel writing comes to others. But I'm told my stories are good, and I hope readers (and my publisher!) continue to think so.

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