Disclaimer: This is definitely one of the times a person uses “ode” without having any idea what they are talking about.
I must confess something…I have never finished the draft of a novel. All of my writing has either been short stories, short films, poems or articles.
For some reason I can’t do the long form. I think that as a writing community we give too much praise to the Novel ™ leaving other forms of writing behind. It seems as if the long form is the ultimate challenge to win the “writer” title; I mean just look at NaNoWrimo and how it is presented about being all about the highest word count (even if it isn’t).
So in this article I am going to do some self-care and sing (write) praises about short stories.
Before the long fantasy novels we are first introduced to the magic of the word by fairy-tales and bedtime stories in which their reading time is maximum 15 minutes.
Some of the most acclaimed Science Fiction stories have been short form: Arrival, Blade Runner, Fahrenheit have all been novellas and for quite some time the only place science fiction was allowed to really thrive were pulp fiction magazines.
“Short films make up a unique medium, one that lends itself neatly to subtler scenes and visual experimentation. They also, not-so-coincidentally, carve out a space for voices often quelled in the world of big-budget blockbusters.” – George Miller
Short stories and films are less daunting for readers and viewers because the investment of time they have to put in is significantly fewer. As such readers are more willing to give the story a shot, and aren’t that put off by ambiguity.
(You are probably reading this article because it has a word count below 1k too)
“Short stories are also great for helping develop plot and pacing. Because the story is so short, you don’t have to try and pace plot points out over the course of 300 pages. You only have to do it in 20. This allows the writer to focus on the important parts of a story, only telling the reader what they need to know in order to move the story along.”- Kit Johns
Because of time a short story should not beat around the bush, it must be “goal oriented” with all its elements working for what it is trying to convey. In all great stories each word should add something and each scene serve at least two purposes however, with stories from 40k words and beyond that is nearly impossible whereas a 1000 word story gives the writer, editor and/or beta reader the ability for a deeper analysis -similar to that of poems- in which one can go over sentence composition.
“In a nutshell, what this says is that short filmmakers must find new ways of telling a story. For example, without the ability to explain all the aspects of a character’s background needed to justify their actions, short films need to find other ways to get audiences to identify with them.” - Aran Davies
Word economy challenges you as a writer in ways having free-range for going over 100k would never do, this limit can be restricting for some but for me it has made the blank-page less intimidating, allowing me to throw whatever trash to the story with the confidence that it would be cut out, if only, for the sake of word count.
Short stories allow me to take risks with quirky concepts like a snippet of the God of Death walking xyr dogs or a Guardian Angel waking up her charge at 3:00 am because she is scared of dying.
Short stories have introduced me to a lot of different worlds, and if you want to travel any of them I recommend:
-Don Queerxote by Jennifer Lee Rosman. (Which introduced me to solarpunk).
- The Differently Animated and Queer Society (Part of the anthology “Crooked Words”)
To conclude, no form of writing is superior to the other, and bigger doesn’t always equal better.
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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