On short stories

One of my favourite authors once said:

I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth.

  • Cormac McCarthy

Of course I read this quote exactly when I was writing short stories again. At that particular point, he almost convinced me that my stories shouldn’t see the light of day, and should stay in my digital drawer forever.

But then I realised something. Cormac McCarthy, for how amazing he might be, said what he said because he didn’t feel he was good enough to write short stories.  He did write two shorts indeed, Wake for Susan and A Drowning incident, while he was still in College. And if you read them, while you’ll see the genius lying behind the phrases, you wouldn’t recognise Cormac.

That’s because short stories are hard. And actually, a good short story is harder than a full novel. Yes, in a novel you need to be careful with timing, consistency, and keep the reader entertained until the end. But the power of a longer work resides in the fact that, if you played your cards correctly, the reader will want to know how it ends, because (s)he’s invested a good amount of time in the characters already.

In a short story, you need to pack a story, a meaning, sympathetic characters, antagonists – all in a short space. Short stories are the chocolate pralines of baking – you see those little things and think they’re awesome, and you can eat a whole bunch of them, but you never stop to think how much time a single one took to make.

That’s when it hit me. Instead of sending the short stories out and get them published on Literary Magazines, I should organise them in a collection; much alike chocolate pralines, a single one might not placate the hunger, but a box of them might work just fine.

So here it is, my box of chocolates for you. Someone said about chocolate boxes, You never know what you’re gonna get,  but that’s part of the beauty; you will find some of them incredibly tasty (Bathroom Love) and would wonder why you don’t have more of it, while some other might be less punchy but leave a lingering aftertaste (The Announcement). And at the end, there’s also a bigger slice of cake (Impurita’), for the reader who will find himself or herself hungry after all that amuse-bouche.

Happy reading!

Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies

4 thoughts on “On short stories

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