I recently wrote a review of a collection of what I consider to be brilliantly constructed short stories (I’ll provide a link to it when it’s published) and it’s got me to thinking again of my own approach to writing in this genre.
The short story requires a clear voice from the outset – it, more than any other story should drop the reader right into the action from the first word. There’s no time for skirting around the issue – characters must be strong from the outset and their tale likewise.
The stories I reviewed find their strength firmly in the everyday – they draw on seemingly mundane experiences and transform them, through the power of carefully chosen words, into something much more meaningful.
A writer I know once advised that we should ‘write every day – even if you don’t like what you’re writing – and finish it’.
It’s sound advice, but all too easily forgotten amid the hubbub of a busy working and home life. The short story format should, however, fit in more easily with a hectic schedule but then again – sometimes it’s more difficult to create something where there’s no room for indulgently descriptive padding…
I’m currently collecting my thoughts on all of this, as I muddle through my own particular jig-saw of a writing life – piecing together odds and ends of poetry and snatches of short story and hoping the pictures they form are recognisable and somehow meaningful. Different people work in different ways but the key of course, is just to keep on working – whether you write a few words, sentences or paragraphs per day. Some writers produce 500 words a day, others won’t stop until they’ve achieved Stephen King’s recommended 4,000 (I think!) words a day… others spend an hour, a morning or an evening writing.
Myself? Well, put it this way – my words are like butterflies in the breeze… sometimes I catch quite a few gems in my net… other days they just flutter away, but they’re always buoyant and beautiful and just waiting to be collected…