Since my new short story collection, Wishes and Sorrows, is a little different from my usual fare, I thought I would talk about short story writing.
I keep talking about how, since these stories are over a large chunk of my life, that in a way it’s a great bit of closet biography. If you read deep enough, you can see what I valued back in college versus what I value now. You can see the change in my voice. I should be careful because I make it almost sound like some of my stories are weaker, but it’s not that at all. They are merely different.
One example, for me, is “The Jester’s Heart.” I started it years ago, probably somewhere between “The Train” and “Every Word I Speak.” I finished it, but I never took it through the polishing drafts. I found it, and I could tell that it needed work because back then, being of a more literary mind set (four years of being an English Major will do that to you) that I did not mind being dark and obscure.
Me, now, I want to expand, show more beauty of the scene, be more descriptive, at least as long as the constrains of the medium will allow. So I expanded. I explained more in the text. I gave my readers more.
So what I have learned about writing short stories from all of this?
1. Trust your narrator. Follow what they say, write it all down and see where they take you.
2. Polish. Make sure that everything in the story points to the main reason of the story. You need to stay tight, no matter how alluring a conversation between two characters is, or how awesome a scene. You can get away with some of this in a longer work…it can be important developemental stuff…but in a short story, everything should flow and be part of getting to the main event.
3. Short stories are liberating. In a novel you need to create a lot of little paths to expand the story and make it meaningful. Like in the short stories, it has to make sense that it is there, but there is so much more that you need to accomplish. Short stories, the reader does not expect as much exposition. They are there to just experience that aspect of the story.
I love short stories because they allow me to explore fairy tales in a quiet, focused way. I guess that is why I love short stories, period. I can tell this one story, this one aspect, I can capture something and move on.
Cindy Lynn Speer is the author of several novels, including The Chocolatier’s Wife and the short story collection Wishes and Sorrows. She loves mixing fantasy, mystery and romance and playing with the old stories. When not writing she can be found reading, teaching people historical fencing, and costuming.
About Wishes and Sorrows:
“Richly ambitious” — Publishers WeeklyFor every wish there is a sorrow…Wishes are born from sorrows, blessings are sometimes curses, and even fairy godmothers cannot always get what they want. In this original collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, brings to life creatures of myths and tales, mixing them into a vibrant tapestry of stories, happy and sad, magical and real, each lovingly crafted and sure to touch the reader’s soul.Step into the world where magic is real, and every mundane bit of reality is as magical as a true fairy tale.