Earlier this year my short story, Another Day, Another Murder, was published in the Mystery Writers of America Bouchercon 2015 anthology, Murder Under the Oaks. I’m as proud of that story as I am of any of my books. Most people, unless they’ve attempted to write a short story, don’t appreciate how difficult the task of writing short can be.
A short story must have a beginning, middle, and end. The characters must be likable, the setting must be described, the timeframe delineated. In an eighty-thousand-word novel, the author can spend page after page slowly building and layering the plot. A short story writer doesn’t have that luxury.
Every word in a short story is important. The writing must be concise.
Mark Twain once wrote: ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.’ A similar quote is attributed to Blaise Pascal. Regardless of who said it first, the idea they’ve expressed is clear: writing short requires the time to choose words carefully, edit ruthlessly, and rewrite until every sentence is packed with substance.
For me, short stories are a fun change of pace. I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a complete story in twenty to twenty-five pages while also entertaining my reader.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Murder Under the Oaks and give my story a read. By the way, all profits from the book go to the Wake County North Carolina library system.