There was a time when we would sit in front of a television and enjoy a five days long test match, but now we need a concluding match within few hours. It is difficult to manage our attention span that is constantly being challenged by all kind of distractions. But wait, can that (lack of attention span) even qualify to be a reason as to why short stories are important? Honestly, that should NOT be the reason at all. Then what makes this short format of story telling appealing? This is what the contributors to our first anthology – First Brush on the Canvas had to say.
Novel & Short stories – these are different genres. They appeal to different kinds of (not necessarily mutually exclusive) readers. Both are equally important, they also carry different flavours. Short stories cannot, cannot have redundant props. Every part should ideally be relevant. You need to have the heart to trim it down even at the cost of an awesome joke or a gruesome mini-scene that you loved writing. You cannot experiment with a Chekhov’s Gun or have the luxury of getting into a nonlinear narrative unless you are an absolutely brilliant storyteller. Novels are different. I think you can sneak in an extra passage or two as the build-up of a scene. On the other hand, novelists need additional mini-climaxes (typically to end chapters) to keep the reader engaged.
Says Upasana Bhattacharjee, her favourite pieces of short stories are by Jorge Luis Borges, Blind Willow & Sleeping Women by Haruki Murakami. In fact she warns the readers that these will screw with your head so bad that you don’t emerge out of the stories with the same perspective!
Abhishek Basu Mallick, on the other hand still thinks the short stories are important as they give some respite & options to this ‘attention deprived’ generation, who have countless different type of content to consume and are also a generation that has grown up on fast food, T20 & micro-blogging. But most importantly he thinks, not all stories have enough content for a 200 pages-or-more novel.
Resonating a similar thought, Arijit Ghose in fact finds the popularity of Novels over Short Stories in present times a little surprising. As in other domains it is pretty much the other way round. Wherein shorter formats have come to dominate longer formats. T20s vs Test Matches in cricket. Or even Twitter and Snapchat vs traditional blogging. It could very well be a gap in the way marketing is conducted or the extent to which well known authors venture into this format. Initiatives like Melonade – By Writersmelon and Times of India’s Write India initiative he feels are a step in the right direction for Short Story format.
How we love to hear that !
Well Stuti Chandra, finds most haunting pieces of fiction she has read so far are short stories. The best feature about it is its brevity. Retention is more. Length of the story shouldn’t take away the essence. The story should be a whole.
For Tnahsin Garg (If you have noticed this author prefers to read a popular name Nishant backward :)) short story is all about the climax. Every word is preparing you for that final punch at the end !
Amit Nangia & Uttiya Roy both believe writing a short story is much more difficult than writing a long story. You have just 3000 words to introduce characters,set the plot, develop it, create a twist, and climax. And the emotions must hit the right spaces, and the characters must be illustrated through their actions. Uttiya recommends, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson to people who want to write short stories.
Like what you read ? We are doing one more article around short stories and guess what, we have recently published an anthology which has 14 stellar short stories by these authors. First Brush on the Canvas is now available on Amazon, Flipkart and Kindle.