It’s not the size that counts

I still find it difficult to read *shakes fist at illness*, but unfortunately also still have the need to read things all in one go.  Alas this can lead to attempting to read a whole novel like I used to and then spending the next couple of days struggling to form coherent sentences.  I know that technically I could just read for 5 minutes at a time, but it’s physically impossible for me to stop once I start reading something good.

To stop my ridiculousness I’ve switched over to short fiction.  And it’s amazing.  I have no idea how I missed out on all of this for so long.

Obviously short fiction is limited in terms of plot and character development just because there are fewer words, but there can still be so much complexity, excitement and quiet creeping.  There’s just something about a story or idea cut back to its essence, often in a strange or surprising way.  Mostly, I love the potential for ambiguity in short fiction that you can’t really get away with in a full-length novel.

My favourite story (including novels) is this six word novel by Earnest Hemmingway

For sale: Baby shoes, never used

To me, it’s perfect.  I love its ambiguity and how so many stories are contained within just a few words.  Personally, I read a poignant sadness.  Maybe the baby died before it grew into its shoes, maybe the mother died before she could become pregnant, or maybe some other, horrible fate.  However, it’s equally possible that the baby had so many gifts that the parents decided to get rid of some, one of which was a pair of unwanted shoes. The sadness becomes a shrug.  I like thinking about all the possibilities, but I don’t want to know what Hemmingway thought happened because it would shrink them.  What makes it perfect, though, is that so much is said in so few words, no matter what the meaning.  It’s what makes short stories and flash fiction so addictive.  Each one a little literary tardis.

I know I’m late to the party, but I’m glad I turned up eventually.

Check out: for some amazing short fiction and poetry, as well as a “writers’ clinic” for stories, writing tips and links to various short fiction sites for UK flash fiction

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4 Responses to It’s not the size that counts

  1. Melinda Nicholson says:

    Hey, Debbie, I remember writing six word stories with you with Mrs Farrell, in that big old room with red desks that used to be geography… it turned out it was almost impossible to write a happy one if I remember rightly! A challenge for you 🙂 you never liked happy ones, hey. So sad to hear you are still ill, I do hope you will be better soon. When you are well enough we must meet up some time. I’ll meet you in the majig!

    Melinda xxx

    • D says:

      I’d forgotten about that! Yeah would be great to see you, was thinking the other day how we used to muck about making up doitches (spelling?) and arguing about ‘lumps’. We were so wierd. 🙂 x

      • Melinda Nicholson says:

        Yes, and naming asteroids Arnold. I think it would be fair to say we weren’t the coolest kids, but we did have alot of fun…. duck, duck, duck….. GOOSE! and corners on the sofa in the third forms common room…. xx

  2. Pingback: Internet Places to Read | mischief and miscellany

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