Posted in creative writing

Short Stories

And why they are causing me grief.

I love stories. I don’t care if they’re a 900 page epic (I’m looking at you George R.R. Martin) or a 100 page novella. I don’t even care if it’s literally two lines. There’s just something so rewarding with reading.

As an aspiring writer, my admiration to published authors grows every second. Especially those who write short stories and flash fiction. It is an art form that is severely under appreciated.

Not only do you have to give the reader the same roller-coaster ride  they would receive with a novel, they have to do so with less words.

I always thought short stories were easy. But attempting to write one… I’m regretting ever thinking that

2,500 is nothing. That also happens to be my word limit for coursework.

I’ve read a few short stories from classmates and have found a common theme. Either their story seriously lacks something, or they have too much. If it weren’t for the word limit, their stories would be perfect. Short stories, and even flash fiction, have no exact recipe. Actually, no form of writing has an exact criteria. Novella’s are the bridge between novel and short stories, flash fiction less than a short story. so really you need to define short stories and novel’s, then everything else kind of slips into place.

Assigning a 2,500 word short story was kind of mean. To tell an efficient story, or at least the one they are expecting us to produce, you need a few more words to play with. A little more flexibility.

So far, it’s the one thing I have hated about the course.

My story is quite simple; it follows an old man named Henry as he goes to reunite with the love of his life… except she’s not really there and he ended up married with kids to another woman. Most of the concept is subtle. I don’t explicitly say that he didn’t end up with her, I just have his daughter question who he’s talking about when she finds him.

In terms of short stories, it really is a slow builder. Quite quickly the feedback I received was that there was a lot of description in the beginning. But these claims were refuted when they reached the end. In fact, the feedback I received was that the story wouldn’t work if there was less detail.

But the problem remains; it’s a slow builder. All year we’ve been told that our stories must be exciting. There must be conflict in every step. Mine does not have that conflict. The idea is so simple, so easily executed it has me worrying that it is not a good story.

I’ve already been told that the ending is shocking and brilliant, completely unexpected (and I know that sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but it really was the feedback I’ve received).

I guess time will tell. Tomorrow we have a major session going on where everyone’s stories are circulated. I’ll get to see then whether or not I’ve done a good job or if I have to use my Easter to revise my work.



I'm currently working my way through a Creative and Professional Writing degree in London.

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