Stephen King on the short story

Published December 17, 2013 by Laura Crean Author

I just found this interview on a fellow author’s Twitter thread this morning and it basically caught my eye; I love Stephen King’s work, although I probably have only read a tiny portion of his books. The books that I have read I did so in my teens and they blew me away with their imaginative and inventiveness. I know a lot of people that really don’t like to read his books (like my Mother who said she could never get into them) I guess books and authors are rather like Marmite – you either love em or hate em!

Anyway, I have often found Stephen’s writing to be so clever, not just the stories, but the actual construction of them – Dolores Claiborne – for me was one of those stories that I just got hooked on because of the way it was written rather than the story itself and I just found myself falling in love with its composition and form and enjoyed the book all the more for that reason. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was another book that fascinated me because of the way it was written.

In this video Stephen talks about writing short stories and I have to agree that a lot of authors seem to shy away from them because they get hooked into writing their great ‘novel’. I myself have several novels on the go, but never seem to finish them and I have been wondering for a while now if often an idea for a novel (and all writers have so many of them) might be better suited as a short story. After all what gets a writer all fired up for writing in the first place is the ‘story’ the idea – the point you are trying to make! So maybe more authors should try and get a few more short stories ‘out there’ first before trying (and often failing – like me) to craft that super amazing 150, 000 word novel.

I tell you one thing I have discovered about writing short stories – they’re actually not that easy to write – especially flash fiction – its hard to get everything you need to say to make the story work in a smaller amount of words. Now to me a short story is just that – short! I am talking a few thousand if not a few hundred words, but actually a short story can be pretty long, as much as 20,000 words! So it makes sense to me if you are just starting out with the ambition of writing a book to plan to start with a short story or two first and then see where that leads you. I have found in the last year that writing a short story is really useful to hone your ‘planning of a story’ skills – getting that beginning, middle and end all wrapped up in a tidy little plot that satisfies your writer’s need to construct an imagining to share with the world. I’m still only just learning, teaching myself as I go and you know what? That’s half the fun – I think I’ll see if I can find some more little interviews like this one and see what other useful advice from seasoned authors I can find.

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