I’m going through my book shelves and reading things I haven’t, or atleast haven’t for a while. There aren’t many books on the shelves that I haven’t read. I find myself pulled toward the short story collections. Short bites I can enjoy whenever. I still love novels but I am in the mood for short stories.
What surprised me was what I did NOT remember. Which were a lot of the stories from the last two collections. I know I read through each story. I was happy because I found a short story I’d remembered but thought that it was from a collection I borrowed. Even then the ending was not what I remembered. I was kind of scary but still cool because it was like reading them for the first time.
Short story collections work well for commutes, lunches, before bed and other occasions where you might only have a short amount of time to spare. Even though reading them might be easier it can actually be harder for the writer. Sounds weird, less to write how can that be more difficult? The writer still has to keep all of the elements of a novel but in a condensed form. It’s like the difference between a carton of milk and a can of condensed milk.
Even though it can be a challenge for the writer that is a good thing. It teaches you how to tighten your writing and get rid of things you don’t need. That could be too much description, too much background or even too much going on in the story itself. You learn to pick and chose what elements you put in. The story still has to flow but this time a little quicker than normal. No time for the slow burn you can use in a novel. You need to pull your reader in and keep them there. Like shoving your marshmallow and it’s stick right into the heart of the fire to get it good and crispy with that nice gooey center.
Some writers take what they learn writing short stories and put it into novel form. Each chapter becomes like a short story. Each chapter is almost self contained. Each chapter is a bead on the necklace that is the resulting novel. Some writers prefer one style over the other and tend to stick with that. Most writers tend to enjoy the challenges of both and will use both forms.
Which do you prefer to read and/or write? Why?