December 18, 2013

You Must Write Short Stories

Dear M,

Most fiction writers begin (so I am told) with short stories. For one thing, short stories are small enough to be finished quickly; for another, we can build a story from so little. Zoom into a particular moment and you're done.

However, many writers progress to novels as their confidence grows, and they forget the short story. They are neck deep in the possibilities of the wider canvas. When they finish a novel, they might find time for a short story idea they had. Whether they write it or not is up to them. They could postpone it because a new novel idea has burst into their inner eye.

In R.K.Narayan's words,
The short story affords a writer a welcome diversion from hard work. The novel, whether good or bad, printable or otherwise, involves considerable labour.

I think every fiction writer should attempt the short story very frequently. Without jumping into the writing, giving it much thought and time to build it. The thinking will always happen in the background, even while you are working on the novel. As R.K.Narayan said, sometimes the novel could be too overwhelming. A break could do us good. And then we should plunge into it and finish it in one sitting. Practical difficulties of writing one story in one sitting notwithstanding, the joy it brings when it is done is incomparable. Think of it - you may take months to finish a novel or at least get it into some shape so that you can take a break. And the short story? Is ready in a matter of a few hours. Done and dusted and garnished.

When you go to bed after that effort, there will be a smile on your lips.


Like this post on Facebook!

No comments :

Post a Comment