Monday, 5 April 2010

The art of the short story

In this age of fiction - where airport literature rules the roost and new authors struggle to make a name for themselves - one definite area is being largely ignored by the masses. In fact, this area has nearly always been ignored, has never really made anyone any money and yet among writers, is one of the most popular formats for their work.

The short story.

I've tried submitting short stories to publishers before, who have told me that there is no market for it. The only people who seem to have a large enough fanbase to publish them en masse? McSweeny's, Granta and the BBC with their yearly short story award.

All of which leaves me thinking that, like poetry, the short story is really a case of art and technique of popularity. It's a format that writers can play with. And, since no-one else is reading, they can be as daring and as challenging as they wish. How about Roald Dahl, with Tales of the Unexpected who managed in one fell swoop to stop being a children's author with these sinister Twilight Zone esque stories.

It boils down to the fact that novels, for all intents and purposes are primarily about making money - just ask Grisham et al. Whereas short stories, they free authors to do whatever they want to do. Take this for example by Dave Eggers, a series of 'short' short stories (why don't they just call it micro-fiction?) on The Guardian website.

What do you guys think?
Any other good links for short stories?

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