I have to admit I was goaded into writing this post after reading a Goodreads review. More of that shortly. It seems that some readers need an explanation as to why short stories really matter.
Initially, I thought it was simply a case of Marmite (Google it if you aren’t British) – you ether love it/them or hate it/them. But, no, on reflection I do believe it’s a form of resistance to simply say, “I don’t like short stories.”
One HuffPost article I found succinctly sums up short stories for me:
Less creates more for short story writers. Yes, short stories matter, perhaps more than ever, as the finite supply of widely appreciated short story writers continues to dazzle us with excellent prose for as long as us readers are smart enough to pay attention.
As Neil Gaiman said:
“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.”
For those of you who remain on the fence about short stories, perhaps you ought to read this piece in the Writing Cooperative.
As it correctly points out:
From Roald Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ to ‘Minority Report’ by Philip K. Dick and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The last 2 being made into great and thought-provoking movies.
More? Taken from the Benefits of Short Stories – 6 Reasons Why You Should Read Short Stories
Nowadays, short stories have one certain benefit: they are short.
And “short” doesn’t only mean the number of words or characters. It also means the fast pace, the single-minded plot, and the concise form.
Someone may say a short story is a substitute for a novel. Oh, it’s just like YouTube is a substitute for the cinema. Or a Facebook chat is a substitute for the real-life conversation.
Let’s face it: digital reality is switching our lives. And when it comes to reading, the balance is switched to the benefit of short-form fiction.
In times of traditional publishing, a 25-page short story was not serious enough to bear the cost of printing and distributing it as a separate publication.
Nowadays, authors can publish any piece of writing in a digital form, no matter how long – or short – it is.
It changes the perspective. A short story published as a Kindle Single is a fully-fledged electronic book – with a cover, blurb, and reviews. And when you finish it, you can say: Hey, I’ve read a great book!
It’s not justified to say that we face the revival of short stories. But short stories may turn out to be the most effective tool of a revival of reading in digital times.
What I can and must say about short stories from a writer’s perspective, is they aren’t easy. To encapsulate a satisfactory story with a beginning, middle, and end in between 1000 to 3000 words takes some doing. You don’t have the time to build characters, establish character arcs, or indulge in back story. I enjoyed writing them owing to the challenge.
You can judge for yourself if they are any good. All three appear here in this anthology of murder mystery short stories.
You can find it here on Amazon. Paperback also coming soon on Amazon.
Here at all other bookstores.
The other major benefit of short stories is the format often encourages previously unpublished writers the opportunity to become published. Such was the case with Aly Locatelli, one of the contributors to Death Among Us. That gave me immense pleasure as the editor of this collection.
Okay, back to the Goodreads review and comments about this collection:
I accepted an ARC for Death Among Us to support a friend, but generally, I don’t like short stories. Because of this, I’ve decided not to leave a rating, as it seemed unfair to me.
I usually find short stories to be underdeveloped and they give me no time to become invested in events. I encountered this problem again and again in this anthology, where I just didn’t care about any of the characters or why they were murdered. However, there were a few things that stood out to me.
Before each author presented their stories, they wrote a short piece about themselves and what they had envisioned when writing these stories. The pieces were usually connected too, which was a nice touch.
Another positive is how varied these stories were. There are murders set by a lake, in a desert, in a futuristic world with AI… the possibilities are endless, and these authors took advantage of that.
The reviewer explains why she doesn’t like short stories. That’s fine. It’s her opinion but it’s flawed logic as she is comparing a 5 minute YouTube clip with a full length movie. I also disagree about some of her comments about some of the characters. Who couldn’t feel something about Emily Morales (author Kay Castaneda), the female victims and the killer in Linda Kane’s stories?
Then she goes on to mention what she did like or “positives” as she called them. In fairness, she also goes on to extol the virtues of the Robbie Cheadle stories and the story by her friend – Aly Locatelli.
I truly don’t know this reviewer or if she is also a writer but I can’t help feeling she’s the type of book reviewer who uses the approach of ‘I wouldn’t have written it this way.’ Well, with respect, you didn’t write any of them.
At least she didn’t bother with a rating. I do hope she reads this post as it may open up her eyes to the possibility of short stories being a great source of entertainment.
Think of them as bite-sized nibbles to be savoured. You never know, you may just find your next favourite author by reading short stories.
Me? I love Marmite especially on toast 🙂
If you happen to be one of the band of book bloggers or reviewers who think authors should stay quiet about reviews, fine. We agree to disagree. Just don’t take out your angst on the other wonderful writers who contributed to this anthology of excellent short stories. You will hurt them more than me.
PS Rarely do I comment on a review. I needed to say something about this one as well meaning as it was probably intended.