Sunday, November 15, 2009

Short Stories

I've been thinking about short stories today, going through the folder of things I haven't yet found a home for. Ask me most times and I'll tell you I hate writing short stories. There's too much work involved for the end reward. They take me such a long time, and I have to part with the characters too quickly. And then, like today I read back what I've written and I realise that even with a just a few thousand words I can pack an emotional punch.

The story I've just read is all about loss and hope. It stars a character I became very attached to. In fact, I went on to write a whole book about him, but the short story shows a different side to him. We see him through someone else's eyes.

It's a story that makes me cry, as many of my short stories do. Maybe that's what is difficult about them. I pour too much emotion into them. I have to give up too much of myself. I find it impossible to write something quick and easy that's just about fancying someone and shagging them senseless. The unfortunate side effect of this is that it makes these stories difficult to sell. Alot of the emphasis of erotica and erotic romance is on the happy side of sex, people enjoying themselves and just revelling in plain old lust, whereas there's often a thread of pain or loss in my stories. I can't help it. I just don't think you can understand real happiness without knowing what its opposite is like. But do people want to read that... I do. I'm just not so sure about everybody else.

Recently watched: Crying Freeman
Currently listening to: nowt
Currently reading: Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair


LVLM(Leah) said...

Madelynne-- you... are so deep! :)

As a reader, I've been having a real hard time with short stories lately. I think very few authors can or should do them.

I like to feel emotionally impacted no matter what I read, but find that short stories in particular leave me either pissed off because there's nothing there but sex and no connection, or I like it so much I wish there was more. It's usually a no win.

But I think you are the kind of writer who could pull it off totally. And I don't see why you couldn't sell them. As a reader, who does like shorter stories, I'd rather read something that affects me emotionally than just two people screwing. But that's me.

Charlotte Stein aka The Mighty Viper said...

What a lovely post, Madelynne! It's good to see you thinking about what's wonderful about your work.

I think sometimes I like a short story to be a sharp shock of sex, but if an anthology is *just* that, it can be very wearing. And even in the tiny sex stuffed stories, I do like a bit of psychological depth, a bit of character shining through. Doesn't matter to me if it's a happy story or a sad one- that combo of hot sex, strong characters, good depth-is all important in a short.

And you achieve that all the time, so don't even think about whether people want to read what you write, short story wise.

P.S. I thought I was daft for crying over my own stories! Clearly, I'm not the only one.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Hey Leah,

I'm not saying I couldn't sell them. I'm saying it's not easy to sell them. For the most part I find they're not what editors are looking for. The stories are too melancholy and often don't fit the tone of the rest of the anthology they're putting together. Secondly, I expect reasonably payment for my work. I'm not talking about enormous sums here, but many of the short story calls I see are frankly having a laugh in what they're prepared to pay in order to have your story for ever and ever.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Charlotte - I think it's perfectly acceptable to cry over what you've written. I've shed buckets over stuff before. There are certain chapters of Phantasmagoria that involved me taking sniffle breaks :) But I find I'm particularly prone to tears over short stories.

Oh, and while I know I have written some good short stories, I still maintain they are not my natural medium. I know some folks love them, but hell, I don't even read that many short stories, so why would I write them. I'd rather have a 3 inch thick novel any day.

Sedonia Guillone said...

Hey Madelynne - I've read one of your short stories and it was really good - emotional impact and sex both.