People often ask is a short story easier to write than a novel. In many respects the answer is yes. It obviously takes less time, but every word in a short story has to justify its existence, often doing double duty because there are so few—not that words are wasted in a novel—but with 90,000 words or so there’s room for digression, secondary plots and enhanced description when appropriate.
I often wonder in this age of information and media overload why the short story is not more popular. It seems fit for today’s sound-byte world. I love the format because in one sitting you can easily digest the entire experience. You can also reread without feeling guilty, as if you should be doing something else.
My favorite shorts come from Fitzgerald, Cheever, and O’Connor, but there are plenty of contemporary writers doing fabulous work too. I just completed a beautiful collection from Julie Orringer. Amy Bloom’s A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You influenced how I shaped the sex scenes in My Year as a Clown.
I was a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story contest. Here’s a story from the archive:
- The Jersey Cowboy, Raymond Carver Finalist