Short Story Essays
An essay typically unfurls a focused discussion of any topic, from concrete to abstract, that expresses the author’s personal viewpoint. White, with his “Once more to the lake,” Virginia Woolf and her “Death of the Mother,” or even Robert Ebert, the late great Chicago Tribune film critic, who penned “Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Also residing on the 1000-word-or-less medium are the more esoteric epistles or letters or missives, the latter reserved for the angry at heart. As a mostly modern incantation, nor should we forget so-called “flash fiction” pieces that might also be described as “very short stories” or humorously as “short short stories” (humorously because brevity shuns repetition) or postcard fiction or micro-fiction…or whatever name fits around a narrow-waisted tale that might be told around a campfire or tea or brewski in few words, but yet still contains the essential features of a little book.Guys like Michel de Montaigne and Charles Lamb are cited in Wikipedia, but few will know them unless drilling into the footnote of an Ivy League lit text. These are usually aimed at a group of specific people who share common credentials or beliefs, and often start with a pre-emptive warning, an “Open Letter to…” I remember reading Roy Childs, Jr.’s “Objectivism and the State, an Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” in which he parsed no words for the provocative Ms. And then there’s the literary legend himself, the late great Ernest Hemingway, who told the shortest story ever, maybe at Harry’s Bar in Venice, California.An occasional evening, a lazy Sunday, regular commuter flights.Then there’s the insatiable who can devour a whole opus like weightless caramel corn, reading between every crack in day or night until the last page is turned. Like every person is different, so too is every reader. Except on a long vacation or flight, they don’t have the time.Others have a little bit of time, but only so much.That’s the length because, traditionally, the short story was intended to be consumed at a single sitting nurtured by a coffee, tea, or nip.
The normalcy of today finds people reading shorter prose in less time with more distractions than ever before.That said, the narrative approaches vary widely, from first person to third person and present to past tense.Every great story finds its own unique voice, I firmly believe, and the short story wears this jacket tightly.Not every book need be a Tolstoy , is equally powerful and enviable.You needn’t be Tolstoy or Hawthorne or Steinbeck to express your ideas, though you might well follow their lead.But before you do that, give some thought to what you have to say and what your ideas might become.Below are parameters by length and other less tangible variables.Lore has it he collected 0 after betting per person to ten enraptured friends that he could draw tears from his short story of merely six words: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Whoever would have guessed you have so many choices to choose from to launch your story into orbit around the literary sphere.The Short Story The classic short story runs between 35 words.John Updike’s is recognized as one of the greatest modern short stories, and it is well worth the short but absolutely enthralling ride on which you’ll be taken.Every word, every sentence, every paragraph speaks to you.