Saturday, October 6, 2012

Short fiction: it is not a mini cat, either!

I sometimes like these questions of the week because they make me think about things I’m not normally inclined to think about.

You’d imagine I’d be inclined to think more about short fiction, considering I do write the stuff, and one of the complaints I get about my shorts is that they should be longer. Like, they should be novels. So clearly this is a subject I need help on.

I love what my blogmates have said!! And Marcella, you were so smart with your eye picture. You don’t need the whole cat! This makes me realize I tend to approach my shorts like a miniature cat. Not just the cat’s eye – I try to get the whole cat in there, but tiny.

It is not a mini-cat. It is not! Not not!  *pause for self flaggelation*

A friend of mine once told me what you need in a short story is a turn, a change in perspective, where things look one way in the beginning, then you look at them harder, and they’re a different thing in the end. That’s kind of a literary formulation, but I really do like it for a short of any genre. It is advice, also, that I don’t follow. And should. The goal is smaller. More modest.

It is about a small goal! Not a big panoramic and multi-faceted goal! Small goals can be big in their own way. *pause for self-criticism in mirror.*

A lot of times I blather on about how I love writing short pieces because you can explore something more risky without investing a whole novel to do it.  Or, write about characters people might not be wild about. But just writing this, I realized that is a mini-novel approach.

A short story is not a mini-novel! It is not! *more self flaggelation*


  1. I just wrote a 1500 word short story for an anthology and WOW, it was definitely not a mini novel, was so hard not to be able to do ANY of the things we do in a novel...I love your short stories but yes, I always do wish they were novel length! (Because you write such good stuff :-) )

    1. Hey Veronica! I admire your restraint, and thanks so much for the kind words.

  2. Wow - this is a such a wise insight! You are exactly right: your novellas are mini-cats. They're wonderful, perfectly detailed mini-cats, but I finish and think "well, why couldn't I have a full cat? Fuck this mini-cat shit!" :D I'm really excited to see what you do with the Eye of the Cat approach.

  3. Thanks Jeffe!! Well, we'll see if I actually do it. lol. I need to reread your post ten more times.