Celebrate the resurgence of short-form fiction this May: write, read, and share
After falling out of favor for a time, interest in short-form fiction is rebounding. Fueled by e-readers and online publishing, the resilient short story has freed itself from the word count shackles of traditional book publishers. Length no longer matters. Additionally, time-strapped readers enjoy a work they can consume and enjoy in one sitting.
Long live the short story.
As a longtime nonfiction writer, I’ve recently embraced the short story, too. I pursue the art of short story creation as an effective way to learn how to write fiction, to experiment, to hone my craft, and to develop skill in the art of storytelling. One day I plan to apply what I’ve learned to novels.
My friend Susie Finkbeiner once embraced the short story art form in a big way. She took a month and wrote a short story every day. But that wasn’t her plan when she started.
She put out a call to her blog readers, asking them to provide a protagonist, a setting, and a conflict, she recounts. “I promised to write a story for each idea submitted. I anticipated getting three or four responses but ended up with thirty-two!”
So in one month she wrote thirty-two stories and posted them on her blog. Each one was up to two thousand words long. Imagine that, writing a couple of thousand words a day, every day for a month. Not just the first draft but an edited, polished piece. That’s enough words for a short novel.
“My goal,” she says, “was to be challenged and to grow as a writer. I sure did! I learned so much about how the story is constructed and how to feature just a snapshot, which is what short stories really are.”
Susie admits it was fun but also “extremely hard.”
Yeah, I get that, both the fun and the hard aspects. Though I write my short stories in one day (usually mine are under one thousand words, though), doing one every day is daunting. Some May I see myself doing that, but not this year. Maybe next year.
But the purpose of a short story month isn’t to write a short story every day. It’s simply to embrace the art of short-form fiction. Whether you are a writer, a reader, a publisher, an editor, or an educator, join me in celebrating short stories this May.
As for Susie, she says that “One day I hope to have the time to edit many of those stories for a collection.” But for now, she’s writing novels: Paint Chips, My Mother’s Chamomile, and A Cup of Dust. I’ve read all three. Her fourth novel is on its way.
I suspect her earlier embrace of the short story was key in making this happen.
Join me in celebrating May as Short Story Month.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.