NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The long and short of it

I was never into writing short stories. My natural inclination was always to go long, not short. I didn’t much like reading short stories, either. What was the point? You just started reading it and it was over. I preferred novels, something I could settle into for a few days or weeks, characters I could spend time with, get to know and care about.

Then I started taking writing workshops, many of which involved reading short stories. Lots and lots of short stories. Mystery. Fantasy. Science Fiction. Literary. You name it, I read it.

And slowly, almost without noticing, I learned to like the form. Maybe it was a reflection of how busy my life had gotten, but I started to appreciate that I could get a complete story in 5000 to 7000 words. That only took an hour or so to read. I no longer had long swaths of time to dedicate to reading novels but with a short story, I could get my reading fix and find out what happened, all in the same reading.

That was appealing to me. So it was only natural that I would decide to explore the short story form as a writer. I mentioned the 5000 to 7000 words, right? It wasn’t like I had to come up with 90,000 words, for Pete’s sake. How hard could it be?

Very hard, it turns out.

But I discovered that I could tell a lot of stories in the short story form that just wouldn’t work for a novel. Most of my short stories go longer rather than shorter, and I do have a few novellas and novelettes, but I’m glad I got over myself. Now I have another vehicle for my stories.

And I’ve decided to go one step further and start collecting some of my short stories. My first collection came out last month: Night Shift: A Mystery Collection features four of my short stories, two of which are set in my Mendenhall Mysteries series, and one novelette.

If you’re a writer, have you tried short stories? What about readers? Do you prefer the novel length or the short story length, and why?

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9 comments:

Elise Warner said...

I have written short stories--the first about my family--fictionalized, of course was the first piece to be published. Have several waiting to be submitted but I prefer novels and non-fiction at this period in my life both as a reader and writer. Exception--I'm looking forward to reading your collection.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I have a hard enough time writing novellas, so I have a feeling writing a short story would be so difficult for me. But I want to try one day. :)

jean harrington said...

I think in many ways, Marcelle, the short story is to fiction what the sonnet is to poetry. The ultimate writer's challenge. The space is so limited, there is no room for "error." Every word, every character, every line must pull its own weight. Maybe that's why so many writers avoid it. I remember one of your country women, Alice Munroe won the Nobel a year or so ago based on her mastery of the form. You know what, you've inspired me to try my hand at it--after I finish the current opus. Good post, thank you.

Daryl Anderson said...

I've written a few short stories, but wasn't happy with the results. It's a demanding and unforgiving genre that requires tremendous focus by the writer.

As a reader, I love the form, though a first-rate short story (like a good man) are pretty hard to find. I look forward to reading yours.

Excellent post.

Maureen A. Miller said...

I often enjoy reading short stories. I don't think I could write one. I get too involved in my writing. As a kid, I used to love horror story collections. You know, the old, "flashlight under the sheets" reading. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Elise!

Good luck, Anne-Marie. It's an interesting exercise and I encourage you to try it.

You go for it, Jean! And thank you for mentioning Alice Munro -- one of the world's best short story writers. I bow before the master.

Thank you, Daryl, but now you've made me nervous...

Maureen, I was NOT the kid with the flashlight under the covers, reading scary stories. I'm too much of a coward!

Rita said...

I have tried writing shorts and I'm absolutely horrid at it. Like Maureen I enjoy reading them. Length is not a criteria in books that is.
How did I miss you had a release? Congrats. Wishing you many sales.

Clare London said...

Congratulations on the release! and I love the way you talk about short stories as a separate skill rather than just ... well ... shorter LOL. I like writing and reading them. Every word has to count!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thank you, Rita and Claire!

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