A little while ago I was asked, by the super-ace, Clare Conlon, if I could give her some thoughts on short fiction. So I did. And here’s her (rather splendid) article, at The Creative Times, which has a few of my words in it.
Anyway, I thought a few people here may be interested to see the whole thing I’d written. So here it is.
Feel free to disagree and to add your own thoughts. It’s hardly a definitive piece (and nor is it any attempt to define what a short, short story is or isn’t, because that’d be silly and have little point). As I said, I simply thought it may be of interest.
So here are a few of my thoughts:
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the term ‘flash fiction’, for some reason it suggests, to me, that it’s something new and less significant than a proper short story (it’s almost apologetic), when it really, really isn’t. I prefer ‘short-short stories’ because that’s what they are. Kafka wrote them. Hemmingway wrote them. Chekov wrote them. Vonnegut wrote them. And that’s only naming a few, and that list goes to prove that they’re neither less significant than longer short stories or anything new.
To me, a story is as long as it is; it’s the writer’s job to find out what the story is and to tell it in the most appropriate and efficient way – be that long or short. A writer, in my opinion, should never be restricted by a form before the story’s written because then the story won’t develop naturally and be as good as it could, or should, be.
So, a story’s a story. Long or short doesn’t mean good or not as good. In this, the Digital Age, the shorter ones do have an opportunity to have a wider audience because they can be read between doing things, while commuting, while waiting for appointments or meetings – someone read one of mine while waiting at a set of traffic lights. And they can be mobile too – having something on your phone for instance (which is pretty much always with you) gives you the opportunity to read something without having to commit to bringing a book, or a number of books, out with you on the off-chance that you’ll fancy, and get chance to, read something from them. Convenience is a good thing!