The Problem with Short Stories


Last month, I cried out to  my readers for short story inspiration, as a means of hurdling my apparent writer’s inertia on my latest eco-novel thriller concept. My intention was to write a short story on all the ideas that came forth–all three of them. But what I wasn’t willing to admit, though my subconscious already knew, is that I’m not much of a short story writer.

So now, I’m 11,000 words into a far from short story that’s turning into a novella, which very likely will turn into a novel, all sparked by three words plus a genre from a fellow novelist: A suitcase, a stranger and a train. Love story. Thanks Francis!

The thing is, I like short stories. I like reading them and I like writing them. But  I’ve noticed a pattern in an unprecedented number of short stories including my own; they tend to explore the darker side of human nature. Consider Young skins by Colin Barrett or Dark is the Island by Kevin Barry. These short-story compilations by two prominent Irish authors explore the darker side, laced with humor and cultural insight.

Life is full of darkness, but also graced with light. I prefer to stay in the light most of the time, dipping into the darkness for the sake of contrast, or as a means to appreciate the light.

But if you want to see the dark side, let me know, and I’ll post one of my darker short stories here. But in the mean time, I’ve got a stranger on a train that is demanding my author attention.

5 thoughts on “The Problem with Short Stories

  1. Love that your inertia was “hurdled”, regardless of the mechanism.
    As a reader rather than a writer, a short story – at least a good one – usually leaves me wanting more. But then, that can be true of a book of any length. I’ve certainly found myself slowing my pace as I approach the end of a really good novel, making it last longer and savoring it like a piece of quality dark chocolate. So I guess the length is not necessarily relevant – a short story is just a smaller piece of chocolate. 😉

    • I tend to devour a particular topic, genre, or author until I realize what was once sweet for me has turned bitter. So I can’t say I have a favorite author because at that point I no longer really “like” them anymore.

      But if you’re looking for reading ideas, I do have two books that seem relevant here. Both are a blend of mystery and love story – light on both, but the right mix for me (at the time I read them, anyway):
      – The Civil Wars of Jonah Moran by Marjorie Reynolds
      – The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

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