What makes a short story sweet?

Short fiction. Concise, pointed, generally fast-paced. But what makes short fiction Short & Sweet as opposed to just plain Short? I’ve read quite a cross section of short fiction throughout my years of primary school, high school, personal reading and now university. And quite miserably, for every good short piece of fiction that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve had to endure approximately five terrible pieces. The art of short fiction is apparently one in its own right and those who think you can just cut a chapter out of a novel have yourself a short story are very, very wrong. Short stories require quite a bit of coy plotting for although it may not take as long to write and think up as a five hundred page fantasy novel, you have little room for whinnying your way around to the point. You have to get there. Fast. But still with enough padding that you can call it literature as opposed to an assembly of dot points. 

So, that all said, what are your thoughts on short fiction and what makes it good? What do you like to read and what do you think a writer has to do to serve this genre well? 

Anyone caught in the inferno?

For those of you who’ve ridden the Dan Brown wave from Digital Fortress in 1998 (can you believe it was fifteen years ago?) to The Lost Symbol in 2009, it might be of interest (or hysterical joy) to know that today is the day of his most recent book release. I announce this as if you don’t already know, courtesy of the thousands of Facebook ads (specifically tailored to YOU – and you all no doubt Google books on a regular basis) or else through your equally nerdy friendship circles or perhaps, you stumbled across the ginormous posters plastering the windows of bookstores as of late. Nevertheless, I expect you to all react to this post as if it is the first to deliver the ground-breaking news. Thank you.

So, Ladies and Gentleners, without further ado, here is the long-awaited fourth installment of Robert Langdon’s adventures:

Dan Brown Inferno

I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet because a) if I do, it is one hundred percent assured that my philosophy paper, due Monday, will not be written, b) I was in a such a ridiculous rush today that even though I actually SAW touchable copies of the book in my university’s bookstore, I was compelled by my disorganization to ignore it for the sake of handing in a form before five o’clock and c) I promised myself that I’d finish all two hundred-and-something unread books on my shelf before I bought any new ones.

So, I pose to you, faithful readers:

Have you bought it yet? Have you read it front to back already because you’re just that much of a fan? What did you think? Worth the hype? Worth the buy?

P.S. This is a spoiler free zone and I will enforce this with the frightening wrath of a scorned reader if I have to.

Thank you!

Just because you have auto-correct now, doesn’t mean you can forsake good grammar.

Facebook doesn’t care if you’re responsible with your apostrophes so long as you post as many inane and pointless status updates as possible. The only punctuation mark that Twitter cares about is its godforsaken hash tag. The YouTube rappersphere doesn’t even adhere to basic spelling; it’s all about dis, dat and da next thang. And finally, and possibly the most devastatingly, the age-old art of letter writing (now known as texting), has been transformed into a terrifying amalgamation of shorthand (e.g. “where r u?”) and auto-correct, rendering the smart phone-wielding population just plain bloody useless. 

There is however, a basic necessity for good grammar and I need only give you one example: 

  • Let’s eat Grandma.
  • Let’s eat, Grandma. 

Commas save lives. Use them. (Correctly, please.)

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What are your New Year’s Literary Resolutions?

Do you know what I only just realised? It’s the 1st of February already and I haven’t even made a list of books to read in 2013! Well, I’ve started one now after just about punching myself in the face for my own stupidity. I deserve it. But, let’s move on, shall we?

Tell me! What paperback novels, hardback plays, collections of essays, intriguing biographies, dirty memoirs or non-fiction investigations haunt your to-read list for this year? My list is so far short because I’m determined to ensure that every single title that earns a spot on it is worthy of my very time-poor attention.

On my Books to Read in 2013, I’ve featured titles that have caressed my current obsession with adventure journalism, the third world, media-fueled changed and incredible feats of writing. While since the wee age of eleven I’ve pranced around with the notion in my airy-fairy head that I’m the next Meryl Streep, about a dozen epiphanies as of late have culminated in a redirection of my passions and talents…the writing world. But neither novels nor plays for let’s just be frank here: plotting is not my forte. But rather of the creative non-fiction sort, investigating those cobwebbed corners of the globe, splattering the world with my uncoordinated footsteps and writing about the people, the places, the ideas and the change that I see and possibly even one day orchestrate. This is why the four books on my list all feature either journalism or travel.

I am still eager to hear your own reading resolutions, however, whether they be academic, for the purpose of guilty pleasure or just because no one can not love Harry Potter. What are you reading? Oh, and if you have any recommendations for me, fire away, friends!