1. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    What do you want from a short story?

    Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by Ashley Bird, Mar 16, 2018.

    Hi all,
    I love short stories. They are all I read and write these days. I have my opinions on what makes for a great short story and I am interested in hearing what other people think. Genre, style, tense, PoV, endings, what ever you want.
    It would be great to see what other writers are doing and maybe we can give each other ideas for things to try next.

    Cheers
     
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  2. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    Are we trying to find out which genre, style, tense, PoV and ending is best for a short story? You can have any combination of those and have an enjoyable story or a meh story. Mostly I enjoy a short story that doesn't make me think I've read it before :read:
     
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  3. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    Pretty much any thoughts on what makes a great short story. Or what you don't like I suppose. I like stories that deal with a brief moment in time but gives you a sense of an entire life. I don't like things tied up to neatly either.
     
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  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I think the secret is having a decently developed character(s) that the reader will care about,
    kinda like they want them to succeed/fail/neutral by the end. Hard to strike a balance so they
    don't come off as too flat/OTT, just push things forward. Though I typically call shorts anywhere
    up to the 60pg range shorts, while most would consider that a novella. The more story the better
    to flesh out things in general, but just aiming for a set word limit will definitely hurt the impact
    of the overall story. POV is of little concern to me. Genre, I like to explore whats out there, but
    Horror and Sci-fi dominate my personal tastes. Though Clive Barker raises the bar on length of
    a short since the last one I read by him was a little over 80pgs. The average length of my own
    writ shorts is about 10-20K roughly (guess I am in the middle camp that likes a bit of meat on
    my shorts).

    Well that's all I got for ya sir, hope it helps. :supersmile:
     
  5. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    That's interesting. Most of my stories naturally come in at around 2.5k, 5k max. 20k seems massive. The stories I tend to like reading are pretty short as well. I think it is because I like writing that is stripped back.
     
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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  7. Methanogen

    Methanogen Member

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    A short story, to me, generally serves a snippet or two of the life of a character. Whereas a novel or series shows much of their experience, a short story focuses on one or two key incidents (if it's more than one they're usually connected in some way). The benefit is that you can skip a lot of the complexities of a massive novel and get right to the interesting bits. The genre I prefer for such is generally the exploration of a unique or intriguing concept, and when I write them I tend to be very reflective and introspective. I tend to be in first person because of that. It makes these thing eaiser.

    I do fail at character development a bit. All I really have to go on is their thoughts and experience and actions- oh wait that's no different to anything else. But yeah, I'm bad at that, and need to get better at it. Oh yeah, and I tend to write in present tense but with most of the actual events being memories so there's a lot of past tense. It adds to contrast but I think it's a habit I should get out of more often.
     
  8. izzybot

    izzybot Deadly Jerry Contributor

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    All I really want from any form of media is to be entertained. It's nice to have a new idea introduced, or to be surprised, but that's really the lowest bar -- entertainment. For short stories specifically, though, I think I expect to be entertained right away, because I know I'm not going to be here long. Shorts that don't hook me quite quickly are much more likely to get skimmed or put down than a novel than doesn't, because the novel has more space to drag me in. Shorts really need to stick that opening, for me. I think voice is probably the biggest thing, and it's something that's almost completely subjective.

    Shorts can, I think, also get way more experimental and weird and keep me on that hook. I've complained before about how I can't stand the style of The Road, but if it were a short story, I might actually be into it -- I just don't want to read it for a novel-length work. I'm also a sci-fi fan who likes explanations and gets annoyed when things are handwaved, but I don't mind inexplicability so much in short fiction, because I understand that the explanation could bog down the story, and it only has so much time to get in and do what it wants to do.
     
  9. Christopher Mullin

    Christopher Mullin Member

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    Personally, i love feeling like i've been told a story. Too much information and big blocks of description or internal musings make me feel like i'm doing too much reading for what should be a short blast of pure entertainment, whereas a good story teller will simply tell you a good story. I feel too many writers fail to tell the difference between telling a story and writing a book.
     

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