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? 

Your Challenge, if you choose to accept…

Today marks the first Free Page Numbers Writing Challenge!

As I first said in my post, A penny for your thoughts?, I’ve been toying with the idea of engaging you all in a little bit of creative fun. Fiction, while arguably the most imaginative, free and amusing style of writing, is probably also the hardest to write well, especially if you’re plot-challenged like me. Everyone has different methods of stimulating that little lump of brain that does of all the colourful, constructive, creative thinking but when it comes to beginning a short story or, more to the point, not knowing where to begin a short story, I find that pictures, quotes and first lines work wonders!

So, to the challenge! If you’re willing to let your imagination loose on a page for a little while, then you should be game for this. Your challenge is to take the picture below and let it inspire, incite and coerce your creative juices into pumping out a miniature short story. The final product needn’t resemble the picture in any way but see where it takes you! There is no word limit and no rules regarding theme, style or content. All you need to do is submit your story to me via the comment tool for me to compare against the works of your blogospherical peers!

Be creative, be free, don’t stress, remember how very informal this is and have fun!

I give you 24 hours to whip up a little specimen of imaginative writing! GO!

Your Stimulus:

A penny for your thoughts?

I have been struck by what I believe is an excellent idea!

I love fiction and I love short stories but I find it devastatingly difficult to actually write fiction myself. It’s not a fear of style or grammar or structure that injects me with writer’s block, it’s a complete and total lack of ideas regarding plot and character. In the past, I’ve used pictures or lines or quotes as forms of stimulus from which to begin and this works magic with the imagination. Every single one of the stories that I’ve managed to squeeze out of my pen were conceived in the ‘My Pictures’ file on my computer.

So to my idea! Please share your honest and potentially brutal opinions with me.

I was considering instituting a weekly miniature short story competition for all of my readers. I will post a picture or a quote or just a first line and you get a certain period of time to run with your imaginations, employ your brilliant writing skills and whip up a fantastical specimen of fiction for the blogosphere! You can either enter your story via the comment tool or email it to me and I will announce a weekly winner! It would be far from official or strict and would simply be just a fun and free way of creatively frolicking together in the bookish blogosphere.

Please leave me your thoughts on this idea!