Going round and round lately on which stories need to be priority after I finish Room 3, but one thing is certain: I’m starting to appreciate the short story in a way that I’ve…well, never quite experienced, even when I was cranking them out back in high school.
Here are my current top reasons for loving short form fiction:
- The most obvious – some ideas are just not novel length. There was a time that I’d dismiss such stories out of hand, but no longer. I mean, why not? With short fiction making a comeback, it just makes sense to follow those ideas, as some of them are really quite fun, and I’ve always loved a well-crafted horror short story.
- A short story makes it easier to preserve a sense of mystery. Short stories demand an economy of words and, as such, it’s just not a good idea to pontificate too much on this idea or that idea – less is more, in other words, and that includes leaving out every single thing that is not relevant to the story at hand. For instance, in my story The Station, there is an entire backstory to what occurred in The Station during the distant past, but only a handful of events are relevant to the protagonist, so we only see outlines of those events through his eyes. You can tantalize the reader a little more. By the way, if the story ends up teasing you a little too much, City of the Dead will elaborate on some of the mysteries, with the rest becoming clear in Portal of the Dead, where we actually witness those events in the past.
- You can explore more of a universe that you’ve created without having to tie it all together. In the case of The Station, I’ve chosen to tie some of those things together, but it’s entirely possible to have a standalone tale within that universe. This allows you to see more of what might be going on in a rather expansive universe, exploring more ideas that might not have fit into a novel.
- It’s a lot easier to explore more bizarre concepts, as a story framework ensures that said concept won’t overstay its welcome. This is actually very big for me – I might not be willing to take certain risks in a longer-form work that suddenly become much more attractive when I’m looking at only 20-25 pages.
- They’re short. That’s not to say that I don’t throw everything I have into a short story. They often take me more than a month from start to finish with the drafting and polishing process; it’s just that if I need to feel I’ve accomplished something during those long slogs through novels, I can put one out with relative ease, allowing myself some time away from the long-form work and firing my imagination with a new scenario. That’s invaluable.
In other words, expect to see a lot more short fiction from me, including a couple of anthologies at the end of the year.
I’ve updated Found Music again, this time with a fantastic album from Virginia band Shockwave Rider:
Hey, kids! Do you like Big Star? How about Guided by Voices? Maybe Spoon, or Hum? If so, I have a treat for you this week. We’re featuring the defunct Virginia band Shockwave Rider, who kind of fit all of and none of those descriptions.
Shockwave Rider’s The Shining is a big, crunchy, fuzzy bit of rock that never fails to excite me, even with repeated listens. I am a huge Guided by Voices/Bob Pollard fan, and I can’t help but hear their influence most clearly on this album; especially in the first track, King Corduroy, which sounds like it could be an outtake from that band’s 1995 LP Alien Lanes.
If that sounds appealing to you, scoot on over there and check it out.