Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Short Story, John Connolly and an Epitaph




I sat down tonight to write my blog entry, and wrote a short story instead.  Flash fiction might be the term.  If you know me at all, know my writing, you might begin to suspect the oddity of the moment.  I have struggled with the short story.  I always want to elaborate.  Simple ideas expand, short stories become novels in my mind's eye and, before I know it, I've tangled myself into yet another unfinished novel.  If you ask the various members of my critique group, they will tell you it's become an issue, my offerings often greeted with various permutations of this question:  "So which one is this?" 

Luckily, the group is kind and quick to hop storylines with me. 

Still, a short story.  It's, forgive the pun, novel.    
                 
For the nonce, I shall attribute it to John Connolly.  I just finished Nocturnes, by John Connolly, a collection of short stories, short creepy stories.  Horror is not generally my genre.  But, if John Connolly is representative, I may end up a convert.  Yes, for anyone curious after reading my 1st person POV rant, his is a mix of 1st and 3rd person offerings.  No, I did not shrivel up into a tiny ball of misery and die at having to read a 1st person narrative.  Although, if one has to go somehow, what an epitaph!  Anna Stewart:  The 1st Person Killed Her.  Just imagine the confusion!
                 
But, on the serious side of things, I have often puzzled over the issues of stuffing an entire story into a short.  How on earth does one build a world, put the metaphorical flesh on a character, and manage to pull out an entire plot in a short story?  I think, in spending so much time reading Mr. Connolly's book of short stories, I began to realize the full panorama of short story options.  Perhaps I would have drawn the same lessons from any book of short stories, but his was the book I was reading. 
                 
In reading, I began to realize how limited my view of the short story had been, began to see the value of the snapshot moment, how quickly a setting can be drawn, where one might truncate rising or falling action, what a climax might really mean in terms of a short story versus a long one.  I was fascinated.  And a little creeped out.  I was reading scary stories.
                 
All said and done, I sat down to write a blog entry and ended up writing a fiction short.
                 
There are worse things.  Among them, maybe this blog post.   

But, if one cannot ramble in one's blog, why have a blog?

 

7 comments:

  1. I think that sounds much better than sitting down to write a blog entry and merely getting a blog entry. And I hope that rambling isn't an issue, since I'll be in a lot of trouble if it is.

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    1. I like your posts...they seem a lot more collected than mine. And, yes, I'll take the story over the blog-post any day. :-)

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  2. For me there is nothing quite as spectacular and satisfying as reading a short story that goes from zero to ninety in under 100 pages. Stephen King writes amazing short stories as does F. Scott Fitzgerald. Completely different eras, styles, genres but art none the less.

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    1. I think I've read one or two from F. Scott Fitzgerald. Steven King is an almost untapped resource though. Think I've read a couple of his books and that's it. May have to look up his short stories though. I'd like to cultivate the skill-set.

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  3. Sounds like you're on your way in a new-for-you writing genre. I've had problems with the short story, too. They turn out more like vignettes -- descriptive and little to no conflict. I'm practicing, though. xoA

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    1. Practice makes perfect? I'm hoping anyway. I'm practicing too!

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  4. Anna,
    I think you can ramble all you want in your blog. I love the spur-of-the-moment ramblings, ideas, comments, etc on the different blogs I read. Each person's is unique and yours is no exception.
    Give us your ramblings, stories and thoughts.
    I enjoy reading them all.

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