Writing Short Stories

A big thank you to all my blog readers for sticking with me and my ramblings. I wish you all a creative year, finding joy in the precious little things of life.

Photo by Mark Vesey

I am now officially out of contract as I have delivered my third book in the Donna Morris Mysteries series. No Justice will be out in June. A Wake of Crows is currently available in all formats including audio. Drowning Not Waving is already in hardback and ebook and will come out in paperback in May.

I have various proposals with my agent – including further Donna Morris novels – meanwhile I have been writing short stories. The one I am working on at the moment is for the Crime Writers Association Margery Alingham competition. After much prevaricating I have decided to set it in 1930s Scarborough.

I do find novels easier to write than short stories. In my opinion, they are both attempting to seduce a reader into a world created by the writer. Only the short story has a lot less words to do it in. I have said in the past, a short story is like when you are on a bus and you catch a glimpse of people through a lighted window. You are totally absorbed by them for an instant and then you are gone. It is up to you to work out what happened before and after that fleeting engagement.

In her article ‘Story Writer’ (www.theshortstory.org.uk 11.08.06) Jackie Kay writes: ‘What doesn’t happen in a short story is as important as what does. Like pauses in music; it is impossible to think about the short story without also thinking of its mysterious silences.’

She says: ‘A short story is a small moment of belief. Hard, uncompromising, often bleak, the story does not make things easy for the reader. It is a tough form for tough times. If the novel sometimes spoon feeds the reader, the short story asks her to feed herself. A story asks the reader to continue it after it has finished or to begin it before it began. There is space for the reader to come in and imagine and create.’

Writing a fairly traditional crime based short story has the added challenge that I do want to seed clues, misdirect and come to a resolution. The spaces need to be there, but in quite a restricted fashion.

The other project for January is to come up with a marketing plan which I feel I can implement. For the moment this is mostly about talking to other people (mainly other authors) which I am enjoying.

Have you any thoughts on short stories or any writing projects for 2023 you would like to share?

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