The Wonderous Allure of a Good Short Story
Who doesn’t love a good short story? We started out with them as kids and still enjoy them as adults. In this article, I will discuss the unique appeal of reading short stories over the more lengthy option of novels.
Time is the most valuable currency in the world and most of us have little to spare.
While it may take you days to finish reading a novel, you can read a short story in a matter of minutes or hours. In my mind, this is the biggest draw, but there is another. Short stories leave a tremendous amount of details to the readers’ imaginations. With short stories, we see things as we imagine them whereas with novels the author often provides the details. This, I believe, gives the reader of a short story the unique opportunity to fill in the blanks and participate in the tale.
I’m sure you can remember some cherished short stories from your childhood. If you’re as old as I am, then you probably read several of them in periodicals like Reader’s Digest as an adult. Many short stories were made into blockbuster movies like A Christmas Carol, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and even 2001: A Space Odyssey which was originally published as Sentinel of Eternity, an eight-page short story featured in Ten Story Fantasy in 1951.
So, other than saving us some time and engaging our imaginations, what makes short stories so special? Consider the performance of a comedian. If a joke requires a lengthy setup, the punchline may fall flat on the audience by the time it finally arrives. One-liners, however, inspire an instantaneous response. With short stories, the extraneous details are omitted; the stories get straight to the point. As a result, we don’t have to wait to get to the good stuff.
As a big fan of short stories, I have been writing several of my own. Currently, there are six of my short stories posted on this website under the Short Stories tab. Each month, I write a new short story and publish it in the monthly newsletter to provide my email subscribers with an exclusive preview before adding them to the site at the end of the month. At the end of this year, I will be publishing a collection of my short stories and sending out free copies to every email subscriber.
What I like about writing short stories is that it doesn’t take much time or effort to tell a compelling or intriguing story. Unlike writing fiction novels, which are currently very character-based, short stories are more plot-driven. This gives me a chance to explore ideas without having to develop highly detailed settings or characters. If you haven’t tried writing a short story, I highly recommend it as it is a lot of fun.
This month, I added The Girl in the Park as my latest short story. Next month, I will be adding The Adventure of a Lifetime, which is my most recent.
Another exciting thing about short stories is that there is nothing stopping you from developing them further. If one of your short stories gets a lot of interest, there is nothing preventing you from expanding the concept into a full novel or even a series.
Out of curiosity and in an effort to engage the community, I ask that you share your favorite short stories in the comments below. If you are not able to post a comment, it is because you don’t have a WordPress account. I know that it is a pain, but they are free to create. You can’t comment on Facebook posts without a Facebook account; WordPress works the same way. You don’t need to create a website or start a blog, you just have to register for a free account. I hope you’ll take the time as I (along with my readers) would love to hear your thoughts.
Oh, I almost forgot. If you enjoy challenges, then I’ve got one for you: write a short story based on the image I used for this post. You can email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. With your permission, I will post your story on my website for other readers to enjoy.
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Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado is one of my absolute favorite short stories. I read it when I was much younger, and have re-read it over the years, and I’m always astounded by how much detail I see and hear that isn’t in the story at all. And it’s a great (and creepy) story!