The first short story I’ve ever written is two-thirds of the way through my novel, Secrets of the Sari Chest. That short story didn’t take me long to write because before writing it, I knew it needed to reveal certain key pieces of information about one of the main characters. Knowing how it needed to end, and what it needed to convey, made it a relatively easy short story for me to write.
With an absolutely blank page and only a very general theme to guide my writing, I’m finding the drafting of a short story to be a difficult task– so much more difficult, in fact, than I found writing a novel.
I used to hardly ever read short stories. I remember, years ago, when I’d have time to read every issue of The New Yorker cover to cover (on the train ride to work), I always used to skip reading the short story. But one day I went to the library and watched the librarian set some of the brand new books on the shelf. One of them was Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. I was the first person to check it out, and I read the entire collection.
That was the beginning of my new love for the short story form. And though I continue to read short stories regularly, I find them incredibly difficult to approach as a writer. How does one show character development in approximately 3,000 words? Build tension? These are things I can do in a novel. But in a novel, one has the luxury of many words. In a short story, one doesn’t.
It’s coming along, but slowly. Any tips out there from short story writers?