by: Joelle Charbonneau
When I was asked to join the DSD gang (and for those keeping score - they haven't revoked my membership card yet, so I guess it is okay to use boob references), I was also presented with an interesting opportunity. The group asked me to contribute a short airport fiction piece to be included in the upcoming DSD collection, Terminal Damage. Yikes! Short fiction!! A friend of mind who had been bugging me to write some short fiction was delighted. I was terrified.
Yeah, I know. I write 80,000 or more word novels....300 plus pages. So, why the angst?
Well, first of all, I don't read a lot of short fiction. (This is where I duck while all of you throw decomposing vegetables.) It's not that I dislike short fiction. I don't. In fact, I like short fiction. The problem is that when I get to the end of great works of short fiction I'm disappointed that the story is over. If I like the characters, I want the ride to last a lot longer. So, I tend to read novels more than short stories. I'm just weird that way.
Second, while I might not be as well-read in short fiction as my DSD counterparts, I've read enough short fiction to know that it takes a specific skill set. In 3000-6000 words (sometimes less as in the flash fiction challenge Jay just threw down) you have to capture your audience, give them characters to identify with and create a compelling plot that ties up by the end in a satisfying way. Not an easy feat. In fact, it's damn hard. So hard that when months ago a friend suggested I give the short fiction thing a whack, I made lots of excuses not to do it. I was busy finishing book three. I had Christmas presents to buy. The dog scarfed down my computer.
However, when presented with the unexpected challenge by the DSD boys, I wasn't about to let my respectful fear of the genre stop me. That would be, well, girly of me. So, I put on my big girl pants, opened up my computer and gave it a go. And yes....had a blast doing it. I'm glad that I didn't let fear keep me cowering under the bed next to my cat...oops...did I say the dog ate the computer? Oh well. The point is, in the months and years ahead, I plan on taking this genre out for a few more rides and hopefully improve my abilities to conceive short and concise, yet interesting and entertaining stories. But I'm going to need some help. Before I take the plunge again, I need to do some reading. Feel free to point clueless, yet earnest, me in the right direction. Who are your favorite short story writers, magazines and anthologies? What are the stories you love and that I need to read to show me how this genre is supposed to be done? (Feel free to plug yourself or shamelessly flatter my DSD friends.)
And to all you writers out there - do you like writing short stories? If so, why? And what challenges do you find while writing in this abbreviated genre?