The Art of Short Stories


Science fiction novels have a lot of words. So the author can do a lot of things, like develop characters in detail, introduce sub-plots, and give the story multiple layers of meaning. In short stories, the author’s point has to be made quickly without wasting words. It is an exercise in being concise.

But short stories are usually more than just short novels. They have something else. They usually try to be profound.  In the smaller space of a short story, the reader just doesn’t have enough time to really care about a character or get into created world. Therefore, the author has to make up for it by saying something interesting and thought provoking.

I enjoy writing short stories and I am currently working on a collection for publication. Each short story usually revolves around a single insight that I deem worth exploring. Take, for example, my story “The Perfection of Misery”. It is what is a called my reader magnet. I give it away to readers that sign up to my newsletter mailing list. In that story, the insight is this: When comes to things like art reproductions, or soy burgers, or impersonations, them more similar they are to what they are mimicking, the better. But the same is not true for loved ones.

Imagine you are in a situation where someone you love is not available to you. Maybe they have passed away, or have gone somewhere far away. Some well-meaning individual, which also happens to have the right technology, might try to make you feel better by duplicating that missing loved one.


But this would be, of course, misguided. If you are missing someone, you might appreciate having their photo or some memento, but you wouldn’t want some kind of copy of that person, which includes the way they act, speak, etc. It would bother you. It would, perhaps, remind you too much that the real version is not around.

Therefore, the duplicate wouldn’t make you happy. And if that well-meaning individual, seeing that you are not happy, tries to improve your mood by making the duplicate even more like the missing loved one, that would not help matters. You still know the duplicate is fake. It is not the real person. It is not the one you love. And the more similar the duplicate becomes, the more disturbing it becomes. And the more hurtful.

So lovers are not like hamburgers. The fake versions are not improved by making them more similar to the original. The story “The Perfection of Misery” attempts to illustrate this insight in the course of a few thousand words. If a short story is successful, the author provokes the reader into thinking about the issue explored, regardless of what opinion they may have about it. So take a read if you like. See if your thoughts are provoked.

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