Thursday, August 25, 2011


Yes it's hot and a good time for short everything except cool drinks. But I'm talking about stories.

Savvy Summer Symposium is underway and so far my favorite workshop is the one on short fiction. Actually, most of the workshops I'm taking at Savvy for the rest of the year and beyond are on short fiction.

I used to read short stories, way back in the day. Then I discovered the denser worlds of spec fic novels and left short stories by the wayside. There are so many writers doing really good work in the short form because they like it not because they can't write anything more. One of my favorite short story writers is Ursula Le Guin. She built whole worlds in her short stories. It was her short fiction that moved me into longer works of hers first, then other writers along the same groove. Another popular master of the short form is Neil Gaiman. I hadn't read his Sandman series. I had heard a friend reading one of his short pieces, one about billy goats or trolls and a bridge. I wanted more.

Short fiction is not something writers fall back on when the novels dry up. It's a playground. A place to stretch and experiment and indulge. But it's also not necessarily easy. Writing a novel's worth of short fiction can be as grueling as writing the same number of novels. Short fiction at it's best is efficient which is taxing enough to master in itself. Using fewer and more carefully chosen words to make a compelling point requires greater attention to choices and uses of those words.

I'm not going to wax too much more poetic now since I've got a short list of stuff to catch up on. Look for discoveries in the future. Meanwhile, where do you get your short form fix? You know, that shot of something new and exciting to hold you over until the next volume in a series comes out? How do you discover new authors to read?

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