Writing and Short Stories

This last month, I’ve been working on short stories. My thoughts are to work on intensity of emotion. It’s the perfect craft to experiment with narrative form and perspective but saying something in a short space of time has never been an easy task for me, much nodding of heads from anyone who knows me, and I do find the constraints of short story challenging.

A short story is most associated with a single idea that may or may not be turned around by the end of the event. It has none of the scaffolding that a novel requires as the reader’s emotional experience that is left behind must be pure, that is, not obscured by multiple ideas or thoughts. It’s best to finish right at the point of climax, unlike the novel which requires a denouement. This is so the reader is left to imagine how ‘life’ progresses after the story finishes. Whereas the novel builds a world where it seems by the end we have been shown (ideally) the entire lifetime of the story, a short story by contrast is a snapshot of that lifetime. The reader should be left with a sense that there was much before the story began and that after that point in time (the climax of the story), the journey continues but in a different light to before. Or perhaps they will have an understanding that it has always been so but after (what Joyce called) ‘The Epiphany’ moment, the reader sees the lifetime of the story differently.


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