Monday, July 16, 2012

Gratification Write Now

He marveled at her composure as she reached for another cigarette.  Sliding the lighter from his pocket, he flicked it on.  Her manacles rattled against the table’s surface as she raised both her hands to steady his.  The guard took a step forward. 

The close vigilance of the authorities did not ease his uncharacteristic nervousness.  His shallow breaths increased.  He opened his mouth wider and drew in the stale air.  A suffocating mixture of body odour, cigarette butts, and cynicism.  

Opening paragraphs of another short story.  Another submission. 

Although currently working on a novel, I took time out to flesh out a short, short story that I had written some time ago.  It is what I would consider a psychological suspense; the same genre as the book I’m writing. 

The story fit a call for submission (or so I imagined) from a literary journal in the States except for one thing−they didn’t want a short, short story.  I added another couple thousand words.  I believe it works.  Time will tell.

Short stories are a great exercise.  It’s an opportunity to experiment with different genres.  I am all over the place with humour, suspense, paranormal, mystery...  Having a story published now and then keeps a writer’s spirits up while dodging rejections for collections and novels.

Stephen King said, “A short story is a different thing all together - a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”

When I first began writing, I was a novelist all the way.  Every story was detailed to the nth degree.  There were characters and backgrounds and situations and scenery and conflicts and...and...and...

Peggy Fletcher told me to write short stories.  If I ever hoped to get a novel published, I had to have some short stories to pave the way.  I relented.  Now I enjoy writing them.  They’re habit forming.  They are complete snippets.  A glance.  A glimpse.  An intimate look inside someone’s existence.  I like writing about people and emotions.  Compared to novels, short stories are instant gratification. 

It was my good fortune that two of my friends from my writing group offered to have a look at my latest story.  Perhaps they were intrigued by the subject matter.  I appreciate their interest and expertise.  It is a valuable learning experience to do a line by line edit with accomplished writers. 

Sometimes when it comes to our own stories, we can’t see the forest for the trees.  By the time we have written, re-written, and edited, we are no longer an objective reader.  There were a couple of aha moments as we went through the story.  Comments and helpful tidbits will be tucked away and applied to all future works. 

Alliances formed in writers groups are invaluable.  Every writer needs a support group.  If you are serious about your writing– join a writers group.  If you’re a closet writer, it’s time to come out.  If you have a question, please comment or email.

So, now tell me.  I am curious.  Do you read short stories?  If you do, what type of stories do you enjoy? 


  1. Hi, lynnie here Phylis. I liked your short story 'definitions': intimate look . . etc. I do hope one of the writers you referred to was Delia. I'm not one for short stories but her work is amazing and fits your short story definitions to a tee.
    I do read Stephen King's short stories.
    Myself - I do have material to draw on that could probably work as a short story, but alas do not have the patience.xo

    1. Hi Lynne! I love Delia's stories, too. Thrilled that she offered to take a look at one of mine. I worship Stephen King but am not a fan of his genre. He is a master. No, THE master. He makes it look easy. Time I looked up some of his short story collections again.
      You are a superb poet! I'm sure you would excel at short stories, too.
      Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. Short stories are the essence of story-telling, it seems to me. In today's hectic times, a short story is such a good fit. I think that a well-written short story is a gem, an artwork in literature, well worth the read.:)

    1. Patricia, it's great to hear from you. Yes,there is definitely a bigger market for short stories now. Perhaps we will see more collections being published.

  3. I am not a big fan of short stories. I always want more and have too many questions left unanswered. A few I have read over the years have been enjoyable but I almost always think, "this should be a full length novel, it would be really good."

    1. I know that can be frustrating. There are times I feel the same way after I read a short story. But then again, I have read some wonderful novels that have left me wanting more. Some stories aren't meant to end. :(
      Thanks for your comments. Drop by again!