I have a natural predisposition to long form, both in my reading and my writing. There are a lot of pluses to getting some short stories out into the world though, not least of all, motivation and momentum that can be applied to the novel I’m working on.
But that tendency to long form makes writing short stories that are actually short, very difficult for me. It’s one of those things that I do like to take a stab at however. Writing is writing and if I can get good at stuff that’s more difficult for me, well all the better then. It’s all one big skill set. Yeah, I know there are differences between different flavors of writing, but in the end it’s all wordsmithing.
Partly because of the desire to increase the skillset, I’ve been in a short story kind of mood lately despite having some misgivings about it. I’ve been shopping around three different short stories recently. They’re…. hard to classify. I wrote them because they’re the kind of stories I like to read. I’ve gotten some positive feedback from beta readers, put the words through their paces and ended up with a trio of stories I really like. So with all sorts of positive feelings, I sent them out to various places on the SFWA approved list. There’s a vampire meets nerd, a drug dealing elf and a story written half in faux-computer code. Needless to say, they’re the sort of thing that are very particular. They’re all shopped out now though. With such odd and/or niche stories, it’s hard to say if they need work or if they really aren’t a good fit for the publication I sent out to. With rubber stamp form letters sent back to me, it raises more questions than anything. “Grasshopper Wing” in particular, I feel is a great story, I just wish I knew what to do with it.
While on the topic of short stories, I am trying to find more which I enjoy reading. A sentiment that came up in film school a lot was “Garbage in, garbage out.” Reading helps with writing, which is the whole point of the constant posts about the books I’ve been reading. It’s such a daunting task, very needle in a haystacky for me, similar to the whole “Aw, you grew up watching Buffy” kind of urban fantasy I see around. There’s great writing out there, it’s just difficult to find. I’ve been getting very frustrated with the Daily Science Fiction stories. Some are a thousand words for a bad punchline, but I’ve found a few I’ve liked. But I’m trying. I keep picking at Daily SF and I have a Wild Cards book in my to-read pile.
On the plus side, I found the best short story I’ve read all year. “Fade to White” by Cat Valente on the Clarkesworld Mag website. It’s seriously awesome and is the first thing I’ve heard the term atompunk attached to. Yeah, I don’t really think it’s the most creative thing in the world to attach “punk” at the end of everything, but it’s a really cool thing. It’s retro sci fi, similar to steampunk being SF based of Victorian times, but it’s SF from the 50s. It’s a new kind of vibe in a story that unfolds itself into shocking little package.
This is the kind of stuff that I need more of. It really gets me primed to write some good short stuff.