Monday, August 26

'Portrait of a Love Affair': The Power of Short Stories

"No amount of reading novels will prepare you for writing short stories," said my creative writing lecturer.  

I just couldn't resist the charm of Lorrie Moore's
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I rarely read short stories before starting this course, but I have quickly come to appreciate them and the power they hold.  

Short stories are a fantastic medium for "nailing down a single conviction.  Emotionally" (William Carlos Williams).  

Edgar Allen Poe explained that they have a single mood and "every sentence must build towards it".  

My favourite quote on the topic comes from Lorrie Moore: 
"A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage.  A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film."
Basically, short stories are about compressing, condensing and distilling an idea rather than length.  

And this is why I find them so exciting.  Understanding for the first time the power that short story writers hold, I am thrilled to discover that I can wield it, too.  

I'm looking at it as the chance to make a statement or observation, to prove that my perspective is unique and insightful.  My tutor keeps reminding us that no one can tell our story, or even any story in the same way that we would.  

I am in love with little wondrous things, snapshot moments and fleeting images.  Short stories are a beautiful way to fasten upon those tiny things and weave a narrative around them.  
"This is how I see the world."
It's a chance to articulate something I've always felt.  It's a chance to argue my convictions, which is an exciting prospect that I won't be taking for granted anytime soon.  

As I've mulled over my new opportunities for storytelling, I've been nourishing my soul with short stories.  I'm going to include some titles of stories that particularly resonated with me.    Hopefully these will prove how compelling and poignant a short story can be:  

Michael Chabon:
  • Blumenthal on the Air
Nick Earles:
  • Twenty-minute Hero
Hanif Kureishi:
  • Intimacy
Miranda July:
  • The Shared Patio
Etgar Keret:
  • Shoes
Ernest Hemmingway
  • Hills Like White Elephant
Woody Allen
  • Tandoori Ransom

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