This evening I’ll be going out to another short story reading event, and it’s got me thinking about the audiences we write for.
Tonight’s story is adapted from one I wrote a while ago. I’m very happy with how it reads on the page, but when it comes to reading it aloud, I found I needed to cut a lot of description, tighten up the examples, lose some of the more languid language.
This month all the prompts will encourage you to try writing (or adapting) a short story with a specific audience in mind.
Write A Story Designed To Be Performed Out Loud
Read this story in The New Yorker
Set in Bombay, this is a skillful story that features four distinct characters: an elderly judge, his wife, his son and his long-time “kept woman”. The author is economical and shares a lot of detail — characters, culture, physical setting — in relatively few words (even though this is not a short-short story). Not a word is wasted and it is worth reading if only to see how that’s done.
I have a couple of problems with this story, and they are matters of personal taste.
Firstly, I don’t like any of the characters. I know there’s a place for this in literature, but I really prefer a story where I like at least one of the characters at least a little bit. I can sympathize to some extent with almost all of the characters in this novel (a testament to the writer’s skill), but I don’t like any of them, which leaves me with a feeling of not having enjoyed the story.
Also, I know there is a kind of resolution in here, if I go looking for it, but I prefer a good, strong ending. This story, like real life, just pauses for a moment and then carries on, anticlimactically. It’s a literary style that is much admired, just not by me.
What do you think? Do you like this kind of story? Do you like storybook endings or are you OK with thinks just petering out?