Here is a series of links to the articles - all absolutely fascinating, from practising, well published short story writers, some of whom do a lot of teaching of this thing called writing.
HOW THE SHORT STORY?? “Do you decide to write a short story, or does a story decide to be written?”
Prof Patty McNair herself said,
“HOW the short story? WRITE the short story. Then REWRITE the short story. And WRITE it again. James Thurber said, “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” I’ll second that and raise him: “Don’t get it right, just get it written, and THEN get it right.” That’s HOW.”ARTICLE HERE
“Memory and extended memory offer a bewilderingly, near infinitely vast amount of potential subject matter. There can never be any excuse for not having anything to write about – writers’ block is just a kind of narcolepsy brought on by an inability to deal with the vastness of one’s extended memory, either through fatigue, lethargy or depression.”ARTICLE HERE
“Does writing a “successful” story have anything at all to do with creativity? I think not. Creativity does, however, have everything to do with how the short story... When we wonder does the author decide to write the story or does the story decide to be written, is the story willed into existence or is it a matter of spontaneous combustion, doesn’t the answer depend upon just how creative that particular author is?”ARTICLE HERE
“short fiction is a trickier paradox. The writing is even more “channeled” through the writer—even more intuitive, obsessive and raw because it remains fresh, is not stretched out over years but rather over a few days or weeks—and yet because of the length the writer is permitted fewer digressions, fewer missteps, wherein every word must be crucial and resonant. This would seem hard to swing when the story is writing you! But perhaps the reverse is true. All work—novels or stories—will be revised and edited by the writer once the first draft is complete, and I’ve often found that the stories that simply pour out in one or two sittings require surprisingly less editing than those that I really pondered meticulously over a long stretch of time.”ARTICLE HERE
“I write in a state of ‘knowingness’ – ‘awareness’ – but I do not plot. When I get towards the end of the first draft, I can ‘see’ the ending, with little detail.”ARTICLE HERE
WHY THE SHORT STORY?
Patty McNair "In the early 1980s, I found this little book: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. I know you know it. Raymond Carver. And regardless what you think about Carver or that literary generation’s minimalism or Gordon Lish or any of these things, I am not afraid to admit that these stories opened up a world to me. They were manageable (some no longer than those tiny stories in my SRA books long ago) and moving. They were brutal and they were fearless. I didn’t know that stories could do that. I didn’t know you could tell these things, say them out loud."
“I began to see that one couldn’t approach the short story with the same imaginative gear of a poet or novelist, you had to have the unique, special, short story head. Without this apparatus you were unable to see either the potential for short stories in the world around you, or to write them.”ARTICLE HERE
“In the end, it probably comes down to goosebumps....On the other hand, much as I enjoy novels, I don’t recall a single goosebump ever caused by one...”ARTICLE HERE
“The short story is an incredibly diverse form. It combines the best of various other literary art forms.”ARTICLE HERE
“Who needs mind-altering substances when you have stories? Do novels do that quite so well? Mostly, no. because the author is doing the filling of the world for you, to a large extent. They are making you live the dream they had themselves. Whereas with a good, well-written story – it plants seeds. They grow inside you.”ARTICLE HERE
IS THE SHORT STORY A TRAINING GROUND FOR THE NOVEL?
Patty McNair "I hate this idea. I hate the idea of making a whole class out of little, tiny stories. Of teaching students to write short. (As though people who text and tweet and blog and shorthand through most forms of communication need us to encourage them to keep it short!)
Okay, don’t get me wrong. I love the perfect short-short. Adore it. Think “Bucket Rider,” by Franz Kafka; “The Porcelain Doll,” by Leo Tolstoy; “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin; “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway; “Girl,” Jamaica Kincaid. These are stories I turn to often, stories I learn from and I use in teaching. I have my own short-short stories, too, in The Temple of Air. “The Joke.” “Deer Story.” “Hand Thing.” But you know what? I had to write hundreds of pages in order to write these two and three page stories. I had to write long long long in order to really do the short-short thing." ARTICLE HERE
“I think it is a big mistake to think of the short story as a practice ground for the novel, a stepping stone towards the longer form. This is because the two forms tend to work along opposite lines of force to achieve their effects. The novel is all about filling big narrative spaces, while the short story is all about suggesting those spaces and using the restrictions of space and time to powerful effect.”ARTICLE HERE
“Unquestionably. Undeniably. Until the cows come home. Bear in mind, however: the novel is every bit as much a training ground for the short story."ARTICLE HERE
Gina Frangello "...While much can be made and dissected of the difference between the story and the novel, the real difference here—the essential difference—has to do with what a writer wants out of his or her career vs. what the market wants. The short story can be mere “training ground” for the novel if the writer sees it that way. However, such writers should keep in mind that writing a novel is no neat guarantee of selling a book for good money at a big New York house either. Deciding to write “to the market” is a risky endeavor..." ARTICLE HERE
“I wonder if a successful writer of short fiction may find it hard to write a novel, because they need to unlearn so much. However, when they finally do, I wonder if they might write a better novel than they would if they were not short story writers first.”ARTICLE HERE
I think the link to Gina Frangello's piece should be http://patriciaannmcnair.com/2011/02/20/208/ rather than a duplicate link to Gerard Woodward.ReplyDelete
I agree so much with Gina Frangello. My stories are just like that. Stories vomited onto the page that I don't really remember writing are often my best. And sadly, I do think novels and short stories are two very different things and at least for me there is some unlearning, so much so that I think my short story brain is broken. Thanks for these links.ReplyDelete