1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The short story: Is is dying?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Lemex, Apr 4, 2009.

    The short story: Is it dying?

    Looking around town today I notice (with a certain level of concern) that there are very few literary magazines left, yet many writers around wishing to send stories and poems away. Most are either yearly publications or Children's or Woman's magazines, all operating in their own, esoteric fields.

    For example; here in Newcastle we have 6 magazines, but none that are very evident or operational.

    So I have to ask, is my area just bad for this, or is the short story slowly dying?
     
  2. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I don't see any evidence that it's dying... maybe it's just your area? I honestly find it harder to find places to send my poetry than short stories.
     
  3. KevinRichard
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    KevinRichard Member

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    The short story is not so much dying as it is in need of a marketing makeover. So much in life these days (at least when popular media is concerned) is defined by how it is marketed. I think Anne Patchett was right when she said "the short story is in need of a scandal."

    It needs its fifteen minutes back in the spot light. It needs someone to come along and shake it up. I'm not talking about just taking the same old stories and adulterating them with a once over of quick edit cuts, special effects, and cameos, nor am I talking about pushing the social or political envelope even farther, nor am I talking about diluting it into something more digestible for the viewing public. All of these have been tried, mildly succeeded - or not, and eventually the short story has returned to it's home, forgotten and unappreciated.

    The short story needs to make a sex tape, and , once it has our attention, use the spotlight to release its brand new ideas. It needs to acknowledge the giants that have come before it and then blow up, like a phoenix, torching every last story and rising triumphantly (yet respectfully) from the ashes.

    And, telling from my weak metaphor, I will not be the one to write it.
     
  4. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    I generally don't read magazines. I read books. A few decades ago, I was a regular reader of Twilight Zone magazine, which I believe is long defunct.

    I started thinking about the short story market recently, as I've been planning on writing a short story at some point.

    I was shopping in a store I don't often frequent recently, a Wegman's supermarket, and glanced at the magazine section. To my astonishment, I found Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine sitting next to Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov's Science Fiction. I bought the AHM and the Analog.

    Then I started paying attention to other magazine racks. I noticed that nobody carries magazines catering to short stories. Everything is, Woman's magazines, Teen magazines, magazines about motorcycles, about exercise, about cooking, crossword puzzles and word-finds, but nothing for the short fiction reader!

    So I do share your concern for the short story market...
     
  5. lebowski
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    lebowski Member

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    I really hope that the short story isn't dying out seeing as i have just launched my own short story mag!

    There was an article in the Guardian Review (UK) on Saturday gone that suggested there is a run of top notch short story books coming up. I haven't got the article, so can't tell you the names of the authors but have a look at that if you are interested. It'll be on the website. I'm a huge fan of short stories and find it depressing that any article, this one included, starts off with a paragraph about the death of the short story. Its become a kind of cliche that gets trotted out but doesn't ever seem to be backed up by much. Although this article for the first time did rightly point out that there are only 2-3 big name authors out at present who have made their reputation off the back of short stories. I'm only young so i can't vouch for what things used to be like but i always find plenty of choice in the short story section of my local book stores and thats without working through all the greats such as Cheever, Yates, Carver, etc

    For me, the short story will always be a bit more intriguing than the novel.
     
  6. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    its strange you mention that, i remember when short stories were accepted in the lower thousands and novels even could be 75k but now they want more and more with novels reaching up to 125k in word length. Shorts now 5k plus.

    just gonna have to kill more people, cry more tears to stretch it out.
     
  7. lebowski
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    lebowski Member

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    Oh, another point of discussion is why short stories don't flourish in this day and age. We are always being talked to about the death of the album due to online music buying, or the death of the letter due to the email/text message. Which is apparently cos we all want information in nugget sized chunks cos we have severely reduced attention spans from too much Xbox. But why is the death of the novel rather than short story not being talked about. Surely this climate plays into the hands of the short story. Our information thirsty brains should surely be crying out for these little nuggets of literature.
     
  8. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    yes you'd think in this fast paced world a selection of short stories would be easier to fall into rather than a novel. i'm unsure about ebooks and such, i've d/l a few estories which were interesting and reminded me of the stories told on fm radio shows that i listened to as a child.

    maybe reality new/t.v. killed our imagination, showing us too much so we don't want to think. hard to say
     
  9. miasmatic7
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    miasmatic7 Member

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    The New Yorker has a lot of well written short stories, in case you are looking for any. I personally prefer novels over short stories unless the plot is intense and well captured in just a few words.
     
  10. I-pie3
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    I-pie3 Member

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    I'm afraid I am in the same position as you......my area has NOTHING available apart from the 'People's Friend' which I must admit is not my personal favourite reading material!

    I believe that the short story has died in the sense that a very few actually read them on a regular basis, therfore the magazines have decided that they shall not pay for the printing, when the customer rate is severly low.

    But if no-one can re-create the beauty in short stories, I'm afraid it has died......=[......
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The short story isn't dying at all. Many magazines regularly publish short stories. I guess the reason it seems the short story is dying is because novels are much more popular than short story magazines.
     
  12. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    I don't think it's dying. I think the boundaries have moved somewhat. I know of several writers who have been using blogs to tell first person stories, some of whom have become mildly popular in certain circles. There is still an abundance of online magazines/websites who pay for short stories. It's not a bad market if it's something you can excel in (and have a good turn around time).

    That said, short stories do seam to have disappeared from popular culture. They are no so tangible as they once were (in terms of being printed). I'm sure this is why the media keeps touting the 'death of short stories' line.
     
  13. I-pie3
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    I-pie3 Member

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    What magazines publish short stories??
     
  14. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    In the UK?

    African Writing
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  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Like Kursal mentioned, there are many magazines. It's just a matter of finding them. Most people go to book stores to buy books. I recall that some book stores like Barnes and Nobles have sections for magazines. Of course, most people in that section aren't really interested in fiction magazines.
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The short story is dying because James Patterson/Lee Child/Jodi Picoult/(generic best-selling trashy fiction author) doesn't write short story books. There are plenty of so-called "literary fiction" (the fact that a distinction is needed between fiction and lit. fiction is another tragedy...) but if you take the tiny proportion of readers of this so called lit. fic., and then from those take out all the ones unwilling to read short stories (which is, unfortunately, a large number) you're left with a very small number. Since magazines are generally on the decline anyway, and since there are plenty of sites like these to cater to the amateur (for now) writer, the demand simply doesn't justify the publication of short stories. That said, most countries/cities host competitions and the like, so you can try getting published there, but otherwise, you'll have more luck with a novel...

    And to be perfectly honest, the golden age of the short story is long over...since Katherine Mansfield's death, there haven't really been any significant advances in the short story...
     
  17. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I disagree. Alice Munro is probably the best short story writer alive, and she is just as good as Mansfield IMO. If you haven't any of Munro's stories, I highly recommend them. She is really good.
     
  18. Rabid Fox
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    Rabid Fox Member

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    I think it's just a matter of saturation. It may have been in the past that there were simply too many periodicals trying to run non-stop, and now we're seeing a distillation of sorts. There's still a lot to be had out there if you look for it.
     

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