Keeping It Short

Everything’s fast these days. We want everything in quick and easy-to-manage chunks. We want communication at our fingertips, we want our mail NOW, we want twitter updated on-the-fly, we want our books delivered wirelessly to our e-reader in seconds. Life is, without doubt, fast.

So why, I wonder, has the short story slipped out of fashion? It seems like the perfect reading experience for today’s world. The ideal length to read over a cup of coffee. Which is exactly what I did this morning when I received a copy of Victoria Watson’sI Should Have Seen It Coming’ from Trestle Press. I opened it up on my iPad and fell into a cautionary tale about lying and deceit that involves a deck of Tarot cards, a large dose of deception and a good deal of fraud. And then . . . well, we all know what happens under those circumstances, right?

Something bad, of course.

For many novelists (me included) the short story is the format we cut our teeth on, and we know how difficult it is to get a short story just right. Only a few pages to bring characters to life and evoke emotional responses in our readers, and only a few words to tell a story that engages. It really isn’t easy, so I’m pleased to say I enjoyed reading I Should Have Seen It Coming. It’s a solid tale with just the right sting and, throughout, I found myself wondering what was going to become of the main character – and isn’t that what every writer wants? To keep the reader’s attention right to the end?

Well, anyone who reads my blog will know I have reservations about the pricing of ebooks – 79p just doesn’t sound right for a novel – but, you know what? Maybe the short story is the right format. A pound for a story? That sounds about fair. And with the gradual disappearance of short story collections from the bookshops (and the disappearance of bookshops themselves!), maybe this is the best way to read them?

Now then, I think I might go and have a look on my shelf for one of those short story collections, put the kettle on and  . . . what? You still here?

That’s all.


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