Short stories take a lot of heat as a literary form. Infrequent readers of fiction might find them to be an “easy way out” of writing something longer or complain that a story’s brief plot line would be better if it were extended into a novel. As far as good short stories go, this isn’t the case.
In writing short stories, the first challenge is to give the reader a complete story (although some details may be left ambiguous as a creative choice) in a brief format. I guess that’s pretty obvious from the name, though. The second challenge is to use brevity to one’s advantage and control what’s left unsaid. The best short stories I’ve read have left me with more questions than answers at the end. They haven’t told me what to think, yet I still take away a message. I’ve connected more to characters who appear for a single scene in a short story than to characters around whom an entire novel is based.
Check out a few of my favorite stories and collections after the jump: (more…)