The Long and short of it.

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Probably one of the most famous short stories written and accredited (probably incorrectly) to Ernest Hemingway. My personal favourite is the one by Augusto Monterroso; When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.Love it!
Most short stories are not as short as that and would nowadays be called flash fiction, micro fiction, postcard fiction or- this one I love, smoke fiction, coined by the Chinese apparently, the idea being that the story takes as long as smoking a cigarette.
Widely acknowledged to be hard to sell, short stories used to belong to the preserve of the famous author but according to the Bookseller sales have risen by 35% in the last year and are still rising. Many people no longer have time to read huge tomes, although they are still being written and read (Think Pulitzer prize winner, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt- nearly 800 pages)
But novels no longer have ponderous openings and vast descriptions of scenery, now the first paragraph, if not the first line has to grab us by the throat. We are all in a hurry. So if readers want short and sweet we writers are in a perfect position to supply them, given the ease of self-publishing on Amazon and the possibility of forming an alliance of writers to publish anthologies. There is also the Kindle singles to consider. These are anything up to thirty thousand words and sell between 99 pence and £1.99 although you do have to submit it for publication, it is not as straightforward as self- publishing it yourself.
But don’t be fooled into thinking short is easy, as Mark Twain wrote to a friend, ‘I would like to have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.’


5 thoughts on “The Long and short of it.

  1. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Why did we have to wait so long for shorter work? About time too, I reckon. Great post, lynne x

  2. I love the quote from Mark Twain… Indeed, it’s sometimes the shorter works that are far harder to write. I think that sometimes I spend longer trying to compose a tweet than I do writing 500 words.
    Helen R 🙂

  3. Fab post, Jackie, and I agree that Mark Twain’s quote is spot on. I have certainly found my anthology story a challenge! I love that your post is suitably short too – a point really well made 🙂 xx

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