I met The Fab Rebecca Senese (I think of her as TFRS at all times) at the Writers’ Union symposium. We went to Tims and went through that excited decompression phase. You know the one. It’s where you are packed with new information to mesh and meld with your old data and you talk fast to get it all out and solidify new, useful neuropathways.
She made an observation that really got my attention:
Amid the hubbub, TFRS said that e-books were a sure opportunity for the short form to make a strong comeback. Got a short flight or need a distraction over lunch? Read a short story or two. If you just want to gulp down a tale but don’t have time for a whole book, enjoy a novella after work.
Short stories have been relegated to the back of the bus (read: unread literary journals.)
Until recently people have been buying books by weight, so publishers laughed at their puniness and demanded big doorstops they could sell. Length is an issue with paper, constrained as it is by the strictures of the printing press and bookstore manager’s expectations.
Novellas are ignored by many professional critics who often don’t take it seriously because they think the short punch packs less heft behind it. As if we all feel that way all the time.
A good short story takes talent to write and in some ways is a different skill set from the novel. (These critics must be those same twits who scoff at Twitter just because they can’t put together one clever coherent thought in less than 140 characters.)
Now with e-books, the answers to those objections are: Who needs publishers for that? What’s a professional critic and what is this “newspaper” thing you’re babbling about? And lit journals? What’s that? Is all this stuff available online?
- Death of a Short Story (writeanything.wordpress.com)
- The Art of A Short Story (writeanything.wordpress.com)
- The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia’s Novel Crisis (themillions.com)
- The Danger of Writing Flash Fiction (writinghood.com)
- Writers: Are you skeptical about self-publishing? (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)