In honor of the shortest period of daylight in the year, the northern hemisphere celebrates today as Short Story Day. (The southern hemisphere celebrates it on 21 June.) I was woefully uninformed about this holiday until the good folks at Writers Write, a wonderful, South African-based resource for writers, posted about it on their blog. They included links to other posts about the short story, and I’ve highlighted some below that I thought might be of particular interest.
The Long and the Short of It touches on some crucial differences between novels and short stories. This observation resonates with me most: “Rather than length as a dividing line, short stories – the good ones anyway – have a stronger sense of unity than a novel.” Novels can afford to meander; short stories have to make every word count.
Cut to the Chase offers great tips for beginning a short story. My favorite: “Read over your opening page and cross out every single line that is not indispensable. When you get to the line that simply cannot be left out, you’re at the start of the story.” This is a great editing tip for fiction of any length.
20 Unforgettable Quotes is just that – a list of clever, pointed, wry, and even soulful quotes about the short story. My favorite is from Stephen Colbert (#15).
It seems fitting to end with words of wisdom from the king – Stephen King. My favorite bit from Stephen King on Writing Short Stories is, “You need to take out the stuff that’s just sitting there and doing nothing.” Words to live by, my writing friends.
Short stories are my favorite prose form, so I intend to spend the day binge-reading Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin. Happy Short Story Day!