I’m not unlike most writers. I’ve dreamed of writing a best-selling novel and enjoying the pleasures it offers. But I have a secret. I’m in love with the short story. Hell, I’m in love with flash fiction. Telling a story with the fewest words possible is insanely appealing to me. It shouldn’t be, should it? After all, I am a writer, a lover of words, a devourer of speech and all that implies. Why should I thus be drawn to writing something short? I believe it’s the challenge of it. I blame Mr. Hemingway. He conveyed more in one line than most writers do in ten. It’s a difficult standard to even attempt and one I feel sure I will never attain, but there’s always the fun of trying.
If we are to believe the legend of Hemingway’s six-word short story, we can certainly see how powerful a few words can be: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Wow. Although the story has questionable origins, I would love to believe Hemingway wrote this spontaneously in the face of a bet as the legend goes.
It’s my unworthy opinion that a good short story should be a bit ‘misleading’ in the beginning, only to have some truth, some epiphany, some twist of reality come about by the last paragraph. Notice, I didn’t say ‘the end’ because I believe a short story allows a reader to cut into a slice of life and then leave the rest of that particular pie for another day. In other words, I don’t find resolution to be a necessity. In fact, my personal preference is to avoid it. The point is, in the hands of a sparse writer with an exceptional wit, anything is possible. If you are like me, a good short can be ever bit as satisfying as a complete novel. It’s simply a matter of what you’re hungry for. I might be in the mood for a little Dorothy Parker later.