Short Story Essays

Short Story Essays-21
Or follow the path of the inimitable Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose fame came from his essay, “Self-Reliant.” Or Nora Ephron, who between novels needed only “A Few Words About Breasts” to buoyantly make her point. Sandwiched between the novel and essay are short stories, novelettes and novellas.Like readers, authors also have busy lives, especially first-time writers or entrepreneurs or doctors or scientists or celebs or influencers who are itching to tell their stories but are busy in life doing something else; it is they who especially need a helping hand. In all, five classic options exist in which to divine your creative tongue, and there are many professional writers out there, myself included, who live for the day an email arrives seeking our collaboration on something highly unique yet less than a full-tilt boogie novel.

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Not every book need be a Tolstoy , is equally powerful and enviable.

You needn’t be Tolstoy or Hawthorne or Steinbeck to express your ideas, though you might well follow their lead.

Attention spans for books are shrinking, simple as that.

So why, if you have a story to tell, must you either write the full-blown novel or pen nothing at all?

An essay typically unfurls a focused discussion of any topic, from concrete to abstract, that expresses the author’s personal viewpoint. White, with his “Once more to the lake,” Virginia Woolf and her “Death of the Mother,” or even Robert Ebert, the late great Chicago Tribune film critic, who penned “Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Also residing on the 1000-word-or-less medium are the more esoteric epistles or letters or missives, the latter reserved for the angry at heart. As a mostly modern incantation, nor should we forget so-called “flash fiction” pieces that might also be described as “very short stories” or humorously as “short short stories” (humorously because brevity shuns repetition) or postcard fiction or micro-fiction…or whatever name fits around a narrow-waisted tale that might be told around a campfire or tea or brewski in few words, but yet still contains the essential features of a little book.

Guys like Michel de Montaigne and Charles Lamb are cited in Wikipedia, but few will know them unless drilling into the footnote of an Ivy League lit text. These are usually aimed at a group of specific people who share common credentials or beliefs, and often start with a pre-emptive warning, an “Open Letter to…” I remember reading Roy Childs, Jr.’s “Objectivism and the State, an Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” in which he parsed no words for the provocative Ms. And then there’s the literary legend himself, the late great Ernest Hemingway, who told the shortest story ever, maybe at Harry’s Bar in Venice, California.But before you do that, give some thought to what you have to say and what your ideas might become.Below are parameters by length and other less tangible variables.More to reality, we all go through phases; sometimes we read a little, sometimes we read a lot, sometimes we’re all over the place.And of course there’s the matter of times and places.Assuming there are 325 words on a typical paperback book page, that’s 11 to 23 pages.On a single MS Word page using size 12 Times New Roman font and spacing at 1.1, this translates to between six and 13 pages fully typed.Because of the shortness of the format, a short story usually revolves around a single character, a discreet event, or an isolated happening – with a simple and direct story arch, often a moral or lesson.There may be a surprise twist at the end, but short stories rarely have time for big twists, conflicts, multiple characters, or diced up sub-plotting.Lore has it he collected 0 after betting per person to ten enraptured friends that he could draw tears from his short story of merely six words: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Whoever would have guessed you have so many choices to choose from to launch your story into orbit around the literary sphere.The Short Story The classic short story runs between 35 words.


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