Short Stories

I’ve said on here before that I enjoy reading epic fantasies.  These books tend to be very long, and it’s nothing for some of them to reach 800 to 1000 pages (or more, the paperback edition of Brandon Sanderson’s novel The Way of Kings is 1280 pages).  With my tendency to read books this long, it’s kind of fitting that I’m also starting to go through some short stories.

I never really read them before, of course we all read them in school, but when I went out for my own books, I tended to stick to novels.  When I took my fiction appreciation class last semester, we spent the first 8 or 9 weeks reading short stories and discussing them.  While I didn’t enjoy all of the stories, I thought it was nice that I could read a story in 30-45 minutes or so, depending on the length of the story, and then go back to reading my novels afterward.  I don’t like reading multiple novels at once, I prefer to finish one before I start another, but I didn’t mind reading short stories in between chapters of the novel I was reading at the time.

During the class, I read a post on the Schlock Mercenary website talking about a short story by Eric James Stone.  Schlock is a fun webcomic that I heard about because the author is one of the members of the Writing Excuses podcast which I started listening to some time ago.  He mentioned that Stone’s short story “Rejiggering the Thingamajig” used something from the Schlock universe.  Bored one day, I checked it out and thought it was interesting.  It wasn’t the best short story that I’ve read, but it was fun.  The short story was posted online on Escape Pod and I listened to it in audio form.  Since then, I’ve subscribed to Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod on my iTunes and I listen to the short stories there from time to time.

I think that in many ways it might be more difficult to write a good short story than to write a good novel, especially in science fiction or fantasy.  You have a very limited space to set up your world, introduce your characters, their conflict, any magic or technology, and everything else that needs to go into a story.

I’m beginning to read short stories a lot more, and as I read some good ones and some that I didn’t care for as much, I’m beginning to appreciate the difficulty in trying to get so many ideas across in such a short time.

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