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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When is a story not really a story, and who cares anyway? Syndicated from @mainelarrycrane


The following is syndicated from Larry Crane and is posted here with permission.

underword: flash fiction
underword: flash fiction (Photo credit: piglicker)
Story Writing – the Open Door

Cover links to Amazon.com
A novel is definitely a story, even if you don’t like it. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea genre-wise.  Maybe it doesn’t rise to your estimation of what makes a good thriller. Maybe you just can’t keep reading it.  Whatever.

The same thing holds for a novella. Both of these forms are long enough that you just can’t deny that the author is telling a story.

Other forms are considered stories too: full length plays,  narrative poems, even songs, on and on. If it has a beginning, a middle and an end, regardless of how it’s told structurally, it’s a story by god. Isn’t it? This is where we are in the world of story writing. The door’s wide open.

Live from the Short Attention Span Audio Theat...
Live from the Short Attention Span Audio Theater Tour!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short Forms – Just Inventions?
It’s the short forms of story telling  that really test your acceptance limits. The clipped attention span of readers today, the busy busy busy excuse is often cited for the blossoming of the short form. People weren’t busy fifty years ago?

So, we now have flash fiction, the short short, the just short, genre fiction, the ten minute play, the two minute play, tweet fiction, story cubes, you name it. Are these legit or just inventions of the “anybody can do it” school of creative writing?

If the undergraduate and graduate writing programs of the country say they’re legitimate, who am I to argue? What part does the exploding self publishing phenomenon play in all this?

Creative Writing Club!
Creative Writing Club! (Photo credit: Zawezome)

Just a Training Ground?
Samuel French, the play publishing company, has been producing the Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival for over 35 years. It’s a contest, and it received over 900 entries last year! French describes the 35th Festival as populated by playwrights of all stripes, “all, in different ways, emerging.”  Are we to take from this that short plays are just a training ground for the big time, the full length play?

Pint-sized Plays is an organization that conducts a contest every year for writers of 5-10 minute plays that are ultimately performed in pubs. The directors describe this play festival as the best way to develop writerly work, “get it in front of an audience”. Once again, it’s developmental.

Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, a literary publication contains stories in flash fiction, short short, and genre fiction categories among other more traditional categories shorter than the novel. It’s a good example of a publication that exists “to offer more opportunities for writers to publish.”
Do you prefer the short form of story telling, or are you just tolerating it until the writers move on to two-wheel bikes?

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