Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Short stories are like a good photo

I feel it's time for a new post, even if nobody seems to read this blog anymore.

The last beta-read took more time and thought than I had expected.
The last two books from Netgalley weren't bad but not worth a blog post.

For a change I decided to plunge into short stories. I've always liked them. I startet with beta-reading some stories but that wasn't very pleasant, I had obviously chosen the wrong author. So I headed over to smashwords where I found an infinite variety of free short stories and startet a download spree.

After reading 30 stories - ranging from "nonsense" to "wow" - an idea came to my mind. I understood what I like a story to be: like a good photo. Novels resemble good movies, short stories shouldn't try to be short novels.

Short stories should be like this photo.
It tell's a story.
We know these people are refugees who finally made it to the shore after surviving a difficult journey hoping for a better life in peace.

We don't know where they come from, if they have lost anybody during the journey, what is waiting for them in this new country.
We don't know what their life was like before.
We don't need to know. This snapshot is a story in its own right.
The rest is left to our imagination.

A novel would probably start with their normal life at home, describe the circumstances that led to the decision to flee, recount in detail the exertions of the journey with a dramatic peak in the storm and the hopefully happy outcome. Some characters and their relations with others would be deeply explored. Nothing wrong with that.

But you can't do that within 10 pages. Some authors try and the result is boring at best.
Good gripping short stories jump into the situation, maybe give you some hints about background, make you feel what the main character feels at this moment and end with a preferably surprising climax.

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