A long time coming, my first novel, a thriller set in the future, is finally complete. Not that anyone would know it other than my very generous beta readers — all of whom quite liked it, and some who even found it to be a page-turner. It remains, however, unpublished.
Meanwhile, I began writing a sequel to that story. When I say “began,” I kid not. I had written all of five chapters and then, in a sudden fit of fascination, abandoned it for the more immediate satisfaction of the short — and short-short — story. The novel is still there–waiting. How long it will wait, I am not sure. But, for now, I have heard the short-story’s siren-call.
A snip of time, a flash of character, conversations that fascinate and/or amuse. And, at the end, something that nags, demanding to be examined. These are some of the rewards of the short story.
The painful thing about writing the short story is that you become acquainted with your characters just long enough to love, hate, or wish you had never met them, before you must set them aside and move on to someone — and something — new. But while you are there, they become your friends, your neighbors, your children–sometimes even yourself. If they do not, you should probably abandon it because it will never sing. If you are lucky, you become a part of it such that you live every moment. You know the people. You know the places. They are not characters. They are real. And, momentarily, they consume you. This is when the story comes alive.