On my recent blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club, I was asked to write a number of guest posts about just about any subject I wanted to broach. Keeping in mind the posts I’ve hosted for other members, I wanted to look at a few subjects I hadn’t seen anyone touch. Here is one of my favorite of the guest posts I wrote.
Some of you may have noticed that not only do I have a full length novel available to the public (Call of the Goddess), but I’ve also published a collection of my own short stories under the title Through a Window. Within a scant 100 pages, these five short stories capture an array of intriguing situations both on and off Earth. This book includes an original illustration for each story by yours truly.
On that note, I thought I’d look at this so often ignored form of writing. We fiction authors get wrapped up in writing the next popular novel. So often, we get tied down to writing vast quantities of words, and we shout out our word count for the day as a badge of honor. “Look what I just did!” And congrats to anyone who has the opportunity and spark to grind out several thousand nouns, adjectives, and verbs in one day. I envy you.
I’m going to trim that down today.
I love to read a good short story. I always have. Short stories were how I started my writing adventure.
So what is it about short stories that some find appealing? That’s a question both for those who write them and those who read them.
For me, short stories quell a thirst for reading when I may only have a limited amount of time and still want to embrace the full breadth of the story. I want a chance to walk away from a story with a feeling of accomplishment and understanding in one sitting, instead of taking days to reach that satisfying ending.
I’ve heard some readers say that a short story won’t give them the same amount of substance as a full-length novel. They want a hearty meal for their reading pleasure, not just a snack. I have to disagree. A good short story will give me the same sense of satisfaction as any book ten times as long, and with less time invested in the main course.
In the last six months, I’ve read two excellent compilations of short stories. The first was The Power of Six by RRBC’s own Nicholas Rossis. I found each brief tale poignant and particularly telling of the human condition. I found many of them humorous as well, and I’m a fan of using science fiction to point out our human quirks. I swept through the six stories in just a couple of days worth of reading time and craved more once I finished. I noted in my review that he reminded me a great deal of Isaac Asimov, one of the most iconic science fiction writers of all time. You’re not quite sure where the story is going to take you, but you are never let down by the ending.
The second was Scouting for the Reaper by Jacob M. Appel. This collection reminded me more of authors such as John Updike in the way Appel captured current and past social sentiments by focusing on rather ordinary characters and ordinary situations. It’s the twist that highlights the emotions and the unusual choices the character makes in the end, whether for better or worse.
As for writing such brief whimsies of literary art, I enjoy the challenge of using words in their most efficient capacity. There is a carefully budgeted economy of sentiment and storytelling that must be met in 10,000 words or less. Character and world building must take place in an instant, and the story must resolve in the nick of time. As much dedication as it takes to write that novel, it takes precision and self-discipline to compose an equally substantive work in so few words.
I urge everyone to set a challenge, once a year at least, to try a hand at writing a story of 10,000 words or less. If you really want to push yourself, shoot for 1500 or less! Practice economy, expand your vocabulary. By limiting yourself, you’ll expand your creativity.
You can find Through a Window by Elizabeth N. Love on Amazon.com
About the Book:
Take a journey through the window of imagination, into the possible realms of alien worlds, a kingdom that knows only light, and the annihilation of an entire species. These stories will satisfy your craving for adventure and thought-provoking fiction.
The five short stories encapsulate a variety of musings from the last two decades, including alien cultures, human relationships, a world without darkness, and genocide. The collection includes pen and ink illustrations of the author’s own creation.
Reviews from Amazon readers:
5 Stars – In these five short stories, Elizabeth Love encapsulates the wonder of human (and humanoid) curiosity and strength. This compilation is reminiscent of Stephen King’s early Sci-Fi days, back when he wrote under a pen-name.
Her humanoid characters are fully distinct, their culture and context and well realized, and her imagery will bring you right into the book. Overall, I would highly recommend it!
4 Stars – When I hear short stories mentioned, my mind quickly goes to children’s stories, but this book is not about stories for children, although it could be read, understood, and enjoy by very smart children. There was a quirkiness about them that made them unique.
The first story, The far-seer, told us about two worlds, one intelligent enough to explore other worlds, and the other not so intelligent to believe in a fake god. At least two people from this later world, Mela and her friend Bena knew the truth.
I thoroughly enjoyed the third story, Nearly Perfect. I like the fact that in the end Azure got to decide her own fate.
Zana’s Heart was also very interesting. That was a strange way of explaining how night and day came about, but that was fine. Every culture have their own explanation.
The last story was good too, but the end was so sad. Did Hwee-Kee just walk into her sure death?
Otherwise, the stories were very well written. I had fun reading them.
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Amazon Author: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-N.-Love/e/B00JRM567O