Short Stories Online Extra

As part of my research for my Writer’s Digest article, Short Training For Your Long Game I came across many wonderful quotes from writers who love the short story form. Of course, not all the of the quotes could make it into the article, but I wanted to share them with you, in case you need a little inspiration.

So here they are, the words of award winners, novelist, and participants in the StoryADay Challenge, all encouraging you to take another look at short stories, and what they might do for your creative life.

Why Write Short Stories At All?

For Their Own Sake

“The value I find most in writing short stories is focus.”
Fran Wilde

“In contradistinction to the novel, which gains its strength from its expansiveness, from its size, the short story’s colossal power extends from its brevity and restraint….
“Few literary forms can match the story at putting a reader in touch with life’s fleeting, inexorable rhythm. Its the one great benefit of the form’s defining limitation.
Juno Diaz, The Best American Short Stories, 2016

“Short stories are an essential weapon in the writer’s arsenal. They can be a vehicle for testing out ideas without the necessity to write a full novel, or they can be an art form in their own right.”
Malcolm Richardson, StoryADay participant

“…it felt as though these stories arrived in the nick of time to make me believe again in that place — the place where ideas come from—and to teach me once more what we read fiction for. I’m grateful”
Sue Miller, The Best American Short Stories 2002, xviii

“They suit me.”
Sojourner McConnell, StoryADay participant and author of The Gifts

To Prove Your Can Finish Something

“I began this story initially as a challenge to myself – to complete something. I’d not published a book or a story for that matter, in a long time, and in the long years of working on what looked as if it was turning into two novels I simply wanted to finish something”
Susan Minot, Pen/O.Henry Prize Stories, 2011

“Completing a short story (which takes a lot less time than a novel) gives me a sense of accomplishment and spurs me on to keep writing.”
Patty Kline-Capaldo, founder of the Just Write writing group in Pennsylvania.

To Explore

“I found myself very much wanting to try to imagine it more fully.”
Jim Shepard, after researching a particular topic, The Best American Short Stories, 2007

“Short stories are often like complicated locking mechanisms, while novels are more like tapestries”
Fran Wilde

“Writing short stories with StADa has helped me flex my writing muscles in a new way (I tend towards novels)”
Katta Hules, StoryADay participant

“They jumpstart my creative process.”
Pamela S. Kelso, StoryADay participant,

For The Readers

“The big difference between novels and short stories has to do with why people are reading it…Short stories seem to be for a swift emotional punch to the gut, whereas novel readers seem to be reading for immersion.”
Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Glamorist Histories

“Few literary forms can match the story at putting a reader in touch with life’s fleeting, inexorable rhythm. Its the one great benefit of the form’s defining limitation.
Juno Diaz, The Best American Short Stories, 2016

The Palate Cleanser

“Sometimes you just need a spark to get everything moving.”
Sarah Cain, author of One By One, (Crooked Lane 2017)

“Short stories let you escape into another world for a time, which is really important,”
Fran Wilde, author of Cloudbound, (Tor 2016)

Writing Short Stories For Practice

“I absolutely think that the skills are translatable from short fiction to novels. Thinking about it in terms of fractal patterns, in novels because they’re larger, you get to see more of the detail, but the patterns and the shapes and the techniques that you’re using are the same, you’re just doing it on a different scale and usually more complex.
“Description, dialogue, characterization, pacing, all of these things are the same whether you’re looking at short fiction or novel. The difference, and this is where the fractal thing comes in, is in proportion.”
Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Glamorist Histories

“[Short stories] help me to focus my words to make them as sharp as possible. It helps me to figure out which words are best left out and which words should be put into the story to make it as strong as possible.”
T. K. Torme, StoryADay participant

“I believe in deliberate practice and the StoryADay challenge makes you practice so many things—idea generation, character creation, plot, and twists to name a few—that you can’t help but be a better writer at the end of the month.”
Almo Schumann, StoryADay participant

“I love writing little snippets of life that don’t really have a place in a larger piece.”
Chris Stolle, StoryADay participant

Playing Around

“‘Finding my imagination caught by a particular moment that resonates with me emotionally in unexpected ways…I found myself very much wanting to try to imagine it more fully”
Jim Shepard The Best American Short Stories, 2007, 2011)

‘I [often] put in bunch of work on a decoy story while waiting for the real story to sneak up and announce itself.”
Chris Adrian, PEN/O. Henry Prize 2011

“If the writer is worth his or her salt, he or she continues on nevertheless—because its what God or genetics (possibly they are the same) has decreed, or out of sheer stubbornness, maybe because it’s such a kick to spin tales. Possibly a combination.”
Stephen King, The Best American Short Stories 2007

Have we convinced you to give short stories a try? If you find yourself stuck, or less-than-productive over the next month or two, take some inspiration from these writers and try your hand at writing short!

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