Ideas come and go but the short story remains the same.
Anyone ever see the Hollywood film The Misfits starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clft? I borrowed the tape from the library and watched it a few days ago. The director was John Houston. I watch movies so I can become a better flash fiction, short story writer.
Cover of The Misfits [Region 2]
What is a short story? For the sake of argument let’s say a short story is a journey that a writer takes and then a reader takes. Every journey has a beginning and an ending. So far so good.
A reader brings a certain amount of baggage for the journey. The baggage consist of personal experiences and certain expectations. If the writer does not meet enough of these expectations the reader may decide not to go on another journey that the writer has mapped out. Directors of movies must do with movie goers what writers must do with readers.
Image via Wikipedia
Well, the above is a nice metaphor for the relationship between a writer and his or her reader but what does it really mean? Writing short stories is such an individualistic process that describing this process is not the focus of this article. This article is about what the short story does to the writer.
What does the short story do to the writer? This is what it has done to me. It has forced me to take every idea I’ve ever had for a story and to strip that idea down to a few questions.
Who is my protagonist? What does he or she want? How does he or she go about getting it? Does he or she get it?
Every short story takes the writer to school.
John Huston did an excellent job with The Misfits.
Click here if you would like to download my ebook book of flash fiction short stories.