In Praise of Short Fiction

by Cynthia Coate Ray

Now that the rainy season is upon us, I look forward to downloading new novels from my favorite authors (like fellow Shadowspinners Eric Witchey, Liz Engstrom and Christina Lay among others) and laying around all day just reading and sipping hot chocolate.

But you won’t find any novels with my name on them here, or any long unfinished manuscripts in my files.  Short fiction is my passion.  The challenge of crafting a compelling story within the confines of 1000 to 8000 words spins my gears.   It’s also because I enjoy actually finishing something.
Short stories lend themselves to experimentation, and if it fails, I’ve learned something, but the time invested is not so much that I regret it.  A novel could go on for years, but I can finish a short story in 24 hours.  One day I woke up and wrote a 500-word story in an hour but that is the exception; most of the time it takes me from one to six weeks to finish and polish a good story.

The short story renaissance is evidenced by the multitudinous venues, both in print and on line for short fiction, from microfiction to novellas.   Short fiction lends itself to creative venues as well.  For example, Lectores Coffee Company solicits original manuscripts and poems for display on their coffee bags.  Short stories are accessible; you can sign up to receive a beautifully crafted 1000 word story delivered to your inbox every morning from Daily Science Fiction to enjoy before you go to work, or on your lunch break.  You can download many excellent, but inexpensive short stories from Amazon and others, for example Shadow Spinner Matt Lowes, ‘The Music of Timothy Shean’.

Perhaps people crave short fiction because, like me, they enjoy finishing something. Perhaps they appreciate, as I do, the perfection of a well-done story, where all the feeling, the conflict, the satisfying ending is there like a small present to be unwrapped.

Here are links to a few of my published short stories.

The Truth about Love and Revenge:  This story started out as an idea for a novel set in modern times and ended up as a short fantasy story.  It was first published in Fringe Magazine and reprinted here in Sourcerous Signals

Crab Feast:  This is the story that I woke up and wrote in an hour, as part of a writing exercise I do every morning.  Wake up and just write what comes out.  It appears here in Dark Bits, an anthology of 52 flash fiction horror stories.

Passage:  I wrote this story in 24 hours one of Liz Engstrom’s Fantasy writing workshops.  It is about dragons, and appears in this anthology dedicated to the memory of Anne McCaffery; In Memory of Dragons.

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3 thoughts on “In Praise of Short Fiction

  1. Congratulations on your success! I agree that it’s nice to finish something. I often take a break from novel writing to crank out a short story, and they often feed back into the world I’m working on.

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