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Boll Weevil
July 2nd, 2006, 11:39 AM
A few questions.

1. What is your preference short stories or novels and why?

2. To the writers on here, published and yet to be published; how useful if at all do you find short stories? As a tool to get your name out there, as a learning exercise and do you find it hard to come up with the ideas?

3. What are your favourite collections of short stories and short story writers?

July 2nd, 2006, 12:36 PM
1. I think overall, I prefer to work with novels. There's more room to develop a full story arc. Short stories always feel like a glimpse of something larger. I'm developing more of an appreciation for them now though as I'm focusing on them in my own writing.

2. I think short stories are very useful. I'm learning how difficult it really is to get published, and what's involved in the submit, reject, polish cycle. It's very time consuming when dealing with stories on the order of 5000 words. I can only imagine how much effort goes into a full length novel - and that's after it's written which is a chore in itself. Something else I like about short stories is that I have a lot of ideas floating in my head. It's difficult to stay focused on a novel-length project. Stories that are completed in a matter of weeks offer an avenue to explore more ideas.

3. I tend to read a lot from the webzines that I submit to, although I submit all over the place and don't necessarily read them all. At this time I don't really have a favorite. To be honest, my favorite short story collections have been those of Lois L'amour, which isn't even in the SF/F genre.

July 2nd, 2006, 04:07 PM
1. Both reading and writing: Short stories.

When reading, I find short stories grip my imagination more. Fewer words, mean less overdeveloped ideas, and more "gaps" in the text to fill. Also, stylistic experiments (which I enjoy reading, even if they fail) don't wear out quickly (for example, if Martin Amis' Time's Arrow was a short story, I suspect I'd enjoy it more).

When writing, I don't really know why. Perhaps, I just like to write what I'd like to read.

2. I haven't thought much about publishing, to be honest.

But I wouldn't judge short stories according to their usefulness. I write them for their own sake.

3. One of my favourite short stories is "Kew Gardens" by Virginia Woolf. It's about... Kew Gardens. Descriptions of flowers, a snail faced with the decision to crawl under or over a leaf, and snippets of strangers life, as they walk past the flowers and snail (mostly unaware of them). The most captivating lack of plot I've ever read.

One of my favourite collections must be James Joyce's Dubliners. A variety of narrative styles, childhood to death in Dublin. A good example of how short stories can combine for effect.

When it comes to genre, I only own three single author anthologies:

1. Ian MacDonald: Speaking in Tongues. I enjoy the stories in there a lot. MacDonald's strength, IMO, is narrative technique and prose stylistics.

2. Ian Watson: Stalin's Teardrops. The attraction of these stories lies in the ideas, humour and plain weirdness. Some stories are silly (and nothing but), but occasionally they're brilliant. (Gaudi's Dragon: completing a building with Virtual Reality; The Case of the Glass Slipper: Prince Charming hiring Sherlock Holmes to find out why Cinderella turned illtempered after marriage...)

3. RA Lafferty: Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne. A classic. Great humour. My favourite must be "Continued On Next Rock", where a group of archeologists find a serielised story etched into rocks (in reverse order).

And no post about SFF short stories would be complete without mentioning Paul diPhilippo. His stories rarely disappoint. Looks like he's keeping track of SF-genres and sub-genres only to write a story or two in it (often in a light-hearted manner).

July 5th, 2006, 12:17 PM
With writing, I lean more toward novels, but have been finding lately that short stories help make a nice break in the routine and still improve the writing skills. Mixing it up in turn helps the novel-in-progress by providing a bit of distance. That said, I concentrate on the novel when until the rough is close to complete, then dink around here and there with a short.

Reading short stories is cool for time restraints, or involvement restraints, but the impact is less than that of a good novel, imo.

July 5th, 2006, 12:30 PM
I like to read - and re-read short stories. I can imagine a whole new setting even if its not explored. I like flash fiction. Its tough to write it.

I dont get any sci-fi magazines here (India)so i make do with online stuff. Its good to read them - quick and nice.

But a full fleged involvement into sci-fi world needs a novel.

Ozzie U Nolem
July 6th, 2006, 11:17 AM
I find that short stories improve your abilities without sacrificing much devotion. If I reached my 100th page and found that it just doesn't work, I would be kind of PO'd.

I also think that a successful short story is more difficult to compose than novel. because in a novel, there is an expected level of patience require from the reader. Whereas in a short, it needs to be balanced perfectly to give a consistent flow of imagination and information without over/under-doing it. Otherwise the reader sees no point or has too much and looks away...

Though I like reading novels. I analyze and study everything about them and put that knowledge towards my own writing, short story and novel-length.