I've been spending a lot of time writing short stories lately. I've had people ask me if I'm bothered that my short story work gets more attention than my novel writing (my more "serious" work, they say) and I'm often not sure how to answer that. Because I take my short stories pretty seriously. Actually, I write and publish more shorts than I do novels. I have some novels in the works right now, but they aren't what's paying the electric bill.
Writing short stories is not just "practice" writing. I'm not sure when it came to be known as less difficult than novel writing. Sure, it's shorter, so it often takes less time in the long run. But making a story with full characters and a believable, intriguing plot is hard work. I've spent hours weeding out words, crafting one perfect sentence that will convey a great deal of meaning, motion or time. It's pretty hard to create a connection and convey backstory with one sentence. But some people do it. I'm learning to do it. And I find it more difficult than giving pages of backstory, being the loquacious woman I am.
Try Googling macro stories. There are some phenomenal stories out there that are under 500 words. Some fall under 100. I have a hard time falling under 3,000, so I'm always really impressed by people who convey so much meaning in so little space. It is an art.
But beyond the fact that I find short stories to be a good challenge and know them to be just as full and intriguing as novels, short stories seem to be growing in popularity for readers, as well. And since we're all writing hoping that our words will be read, having a readership for our literary pursuits is a big deal.
Telegraph.co.uk explains, "Publishing wisdom says short-story collections don’t sell. But the prognosis is good. According to The Bookseller, the trade magazine of the publishing industry, short-story sales rose 35 per cent in 2013 – and that was before Saunders won the Folio." The site goes on to suggest that short stories are growing in popularity because modern attention spans are shorter and because shorts are the perfect size for our mobile devices and websites.
Writer's Digest concurs saying, "Short stories are having a revival in the digital age. As book marketing guru Penny C. Sansevieri wrote in The Huffington Post, “Short is the new long. Thanks to consumers who want quick bites of information and things like Kindle Singles, consumers love short.” It seems the short story is back—on an iPhone near you."
The focus is back on short stories for modern readers and many modern writers. And, honestly, even my novels are becoming more concise as I become a short story writer. Monochrome (due to be re-released in late August with Feminine Collective, as a 3rd edition) clocked in at a little over 300 pages, and most readers considered it a long read. That wasn't a complaint, just a statement. As a graduate student of English Literature, a long book was 1,000 pages, not 300. But readers seem to differ on that view. My follow up book to Monochrome will probably fall under 300. Not because I think 300 is long, but because I'm writing for an audience. And that audience seems to prefer brevity.
Some writers will moan about the days when people read...I'm not going to do that. I think people are still reading; they are just reading differently. And, really, people read my novel, too. Probably because I don't release crap. My writing is solid, but it's not because I practice with short stories. It's because I challenge myself in all aspects of my writing (detail, characters, plot, setting, and length).
I kind of love the short story trend. I remember being completely blown away by Hawthorne's short stories and being astounded that The Scarlet Letter was deemed his best work. Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors, and, in my opinion, his best work is in his short stories. Read The Toughest Indian in the World sometime. You're welcome in advance.
Overall, short stories themselves aren't changing. The perception of the short story is. People are beginning to see it as the valid and moving form of art it's always been. And that makes this short story enthusiast pretty happy.
Short Stories by H.M. Jones
"The Light Storm of 2015" Masters of Time, Creative Alchemy
"Tiptoe Through Time" HMJ Books
To Be Released 2016/17:
"Nessa, Iggy and the Murky Toilet Selfie" Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology, Cantina Publishing (pre-order available)
"Gypsum Jane's Inkscapes" Unveiled: A Magical Realism Anthology, Creative Alchemy (October 2016)
"Madame Tarragon" Chimeras & Phantasms, Fuzzy Hedgehog Press (late 2016; early 2017)
Several Stories, Meanwhile in Washington..., Madame Geek Publications (late 2016)
H.M. Jones is the author of the fantastical, the sardonic, and the severely moody.
She's also responsible for the soon to be re-re-released dark fantasy, Monochrome, a B.R.A.G Medallion book and N.E.I.A 2016 finalist.
A poet with a mood disorder, Jones' work can be best described as colorful. Google her *gently* or visit her website at www.hmjones.net.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.