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Mystery & Drama

When is a story not really a story, and who cares anyway?

underword: flash fiction

underword: flash fiction (Photo credit: piglicker)

 

Story Writing – the Open Door

A novel is definitely a story, even if you don’t like it. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea genre-wise.  Maybe it doesn’t rise to your estimation of what makes a good thriller. Maybe you just can’t keep reading it.  Whatever. The same thing holds for a novella. Both of these forms are long enough that you just can’t deny that the author is telling a story. Other forms are considered stories too: full length plays,  narrative poems, even songs, on and on. If it has a beginning, a middle and an end, regardless of how it’s told structurally, it’s a story by god. Isn’t it? This is where we are in the world of story writing. The door’s wide open.

 

Live from the Short Attention Span Audio Theat...

Live from the Short Attention Span Audio Theater Tour!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Short Forms – Just Inventions?

It’s the short forms of story telling  that really test your acceptance limits. The clipped attention span of readers today, the busy busy busy excuse is often cited for the blossoming of the short form. People weren’t busy fifty years ago? So, we now have flash fiction, the short short, the just short, genre fiction, the ten minute play, the two minute play, tweet fiction, story cubes, you name it. Are these legit or just inventions of the “anybody can do it” school of creative writing? If the undergraduate and graduate writing programs of the country say they’re legitimate, who am I to argue? What part does the exploding self publishing phenomenon play in all this?

 

Creative Writing Club!

Creative Writing Club! (Photo credit: Zawezome)

 

Just a Training Ground?

Samuel French, the play publishing company, has been producing the Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival for over 35 years. It’s a contest, and it received over 900 entries last year! French describes the 35th Festival as populated by playwrights of all stripes, “all, in different ways, emerging.”  Are we to take from this that short plays are just a training ground for the big time, the full length play? Pint-sized Plays is an organization that conducts a contest every year for writers of 5-10 minute plays that are ultimately performed in pubs. The directors describe this play festival as the best way to develop writerly work, “get it in front of an audience”. Once again, it’s developmental.  Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, a literary publication contains stories in flash fiction, short short, and genre fiction categories among other more traditional categories shorter than the novel. It’s a good example of a publication that exists “to offer more opportunities for writers to publish.”

Do you prefer the short form of story telling, or are you just tolerating it until the writers move on to two-wheel bikes?

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11 Comments

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  1. Good, provocative post, Larry… Would appear, our tastes, they are changing! Objective? Subjective? Choose a poison!

    1. Thanks for your comment Billy Ray. It seems like writers are all for the new opportunities. Not sure the readers are following along quite as fast.

  2. I personally am a fan of short fiction. I doubt I will ever write a full length book. There is room for all forms in my view. The best part of this new world we live in is the emergence of writers like me who may never write a full length novel. The market is wide open for so much more than what we had before.
    Jon Jefferson recently posted..Strangest AdoptionMy Profile

    1. Hi Jon – The old days presented a couple of opportunities to explore the possibilities of short forms. Now is a completely new way of thinking about story telling.

  3. Sarena Straus said:
    I think if nothing else, it’s a good exercise that would benefit all writers to try to convey a tale with only 140 characters, 2 pages, 10 pages, 10 minutes, etc. One of the best things that ever happened to my writing was poetry classes – it taught me how to get to the point. Which I’ve now done. ;0)
    Larry Crane recently posted..When is a story not really a story, and who cares anyway?My Profile

    1. Thanks for your comment Sarena – In most cases its a good exercise as your say, Sarena, a step along the developmental path.
      Larry Crane recently posted..When is a story not really a story, and who cares anyway?My Profile

  4. I’m tempted to try flash fiction as a way to train myself to write faster and more often. I get bogged down too easily, and I think short forms can be helpful in that area. Each form, long or short, comes with it’s own art form.
    Jeri recently posted..Author Interview: Michael CairnsMy Profile

    1. Hi Jeri – I like the short forms as long as I’m insisting that a story has to be told in the piece. I refuse to pass off witty skits as stories. I’m definitely with you in thinking that some of the short forms can be an incentive to “get with the program, already!”

  5. I think I am a fan of shorter forms. It’s hard for me to get through the longer stuff with the kids hanging on my ankles
    homejobsbymom recently posted..THERA PEARL Neck Wrap ReviewMy Profile

    1. Hi Krystie – It seems like all manner of pressure these days is pushing readers towards shorter forms. I like short forms too, as long as they aren’t totally short. I just can’t see much value in a story told in a single tweet, for instance.

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