Writing a short story has become the new challenge—something different at a time when individual and national complacency has been shaken up. Perhaps, that is the best time to shift gears, when life changes require adaptations and new avenues of effort.
I’ve been trying to remember the many short story techniques I studied during my college years and since then. I remind myself that lyrical poetry and short stories are similar in the use of concise language that, at best, awakens and moves the reader from beginning to end more quickly than a meandering novel. Perhaps, this is because a novel does well to create a believable sense of truth, in spite of the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.
A short stories’ intensity, like a poem, often surprises, even shocks the reader in order to poke holes in consciousness. There is little time for plot complexities and extensive character developments. Just like poetry, the short story, I believe, uses subtle techniques that require careful, sustained attention by the reader best implemented in one sitting.
On the other hand, one sitting would not be adequate for me to produce either a poem or a short story. Once again I recall something heard at a writer’s luncheon—“I have a policy never to revise anything more than three times.” Wow! All I know is that I do not know when the story “Are You a Holocaust Survivor?” will be finished.
Gudrun Mouw (c)