I don’t really recall learning how to write a short story at school but I know I had brilliant English teachers so I must have. I was in the ‘Academic’ class at high school, that’s what the ‘A’ stood for at our school, as in 9A, 10 A etc. So this is why I find myself reading many short stories now. It started with the Ursula Le Guin’s incredible The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. I grew up watching The Twilight Zone so I was well versed in the short, punchy story with the insane twist at the end.
Then I read Raymond Chandler’s The Cathedral. This was very different. If Le Guin’s story is a one-two punch, Chandler’s is a flower slowly opening. Spoiler alert – there’s no gun, no sudden confession, just a man who has his eyes (and heart) open at the end, when they were clamped shut during the introduction.
Yesterday I came across The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It was another one-two punch with an amazing covers. This is my fave; I think it might be the original.
Spoiler again…I did wonder if Suzanne Collins had read it before coming up with the idea for The Hunger Games. Unlike The Ones who Walk away from Omelas and The Cathedral, I was left wanting more from many of the stories. Maybe it takes a while to get used to reading short stories.
My friend Kate has some great short stories. Check out her work over at www.katekelsen.com.
I found a great article on The Bustle by Rebecca Kelly with a list of recommended short stories. Short stories, she says, are like a day trip to Paris (The Bustle is a UK site. I day trip to Paris would take me 3 days…) anyway… short stories are like a day trip to Paris. Exhausting, sure. But you still get to see the Eiffel Tower and eat a croissant. Considering I am preparing to write short stories set in Paris for the month of July I found it apt. The quote also inspired an idea for a day-tripping Brit photographer who goes to Paris, complains about the tourists, the cameras, the selfies, and goes home again. We will see if anyone ends up getting stoned to death, or perhaps have their eyes opened…
feature image by Moiz K Malik on Unsplash ❤