It’s easier, I think, to write a novel than it is to write a short story. It’s easier to write a short than it is to write flash fiction. The hardest, possibly, is to write a fully-formed tale, evocative, in a mere fifty words.
Want to take us up on that challenge?
Kortnee Bryant, who writes as CV Walter (and possibly other names) came up with this particular challenge for her appearance at MARScon this weekend. If you’re at the con, find Jonna Hayden or Kortnee and they will give you a postcard to write your 50-words story on the back of the image prompt. If you aren’t there, ping me (at cedarlila at gmail dot com or any social media) and I’ll give you a unique image prompt. When you’ve managed – if you can! – to write a 50 word story, send the image and story to the email address above. Kortnee and Raconteur Press have a very special anthology planned for those who succeed admirably in this challenge.
So what is in a story, and why is it so hard to write short?
A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you ask me, something ought to happen in the story, otherwise it’s a slice of life, or a vignette.
Which isn’t to say that slice of life doesn’t have it’s place. It can be very soothing to step into a carefree world with no conflict for a time, and escape reality by way of fiction. Sometimes having much of a plot is stressful, so reading a book where you know there’s no Big Bad is pleasant. Other times, you want the characters to do things, go places, and grow.
Which is why it’s easier to write a novel. In a novel you have all the room you want to explore the world your character lives in. In a short story, that world is usually implied, and limned in for the reader using tropes and tricks. In a novel, your character(s) have the time to grow and learn, in a short that growth is really only shown as potential, without the time to really show what has changed. In a novel, the character has setbacks and challenges just like real life, and the reader has the time to submerge into a world they can feel they know. In a short story, you skim the surface like a bird snatching a fish from the waters below, to feast and turn back ready for another story.
Sometimes all you want is a snack. A bonbon, as it were, from an assorted chocolates and candy box. Like a tiny story that explodes with flavor in your brain, delivered in only fifty words.
The postcard stories can be any genre, inspired by the image you are assigned. Which will be something like these, but different, as everyone gets a unique image!