Short stories are a writer’s notebook. Often they are the seed of an idea that a writer might want to develop. If you are looking for ideas what to write about, short stories are a great way to get started. It’s not so much the stories or the ideas in and of themselves that you might want to direct your attention to. But, in short stories writers reveal their M.O. (modus operandi). They get to the point fast and they do not try to disguise the fact that much of the world has still to be developed and the characters are mere sketches. This allows you to see how a little can go a long way in terms of creating a first map outlining a possible story or creating a picture of a character that has the semblance of a real person.
Short Stories are short by definition and that allows you to take a look “under the hood.” Whereas it might take you days or weeks to analyze a novel, you can take a short story apart in a matter of hours. It is most interesting to see in detail what a writer chose to tell you first, what they brought up after that and how they keep your attention.
There will be much more about how to analyze stories and movies in upcoming posts. So keep an eye out on them.
To conclude, her is another good thing is that short stories are often free.
See some great examples here:
The Sun Dog Trail
The Wisdom of the Trail
The White Silence
(in Collection of Short Stories) starting on page 46
(in New Yorker 12/2020)
Other short stories cost very little:
The World’s Greatest Short Stories (Dover Thrift Study Editions) Kindle Edition
by James Daley (Editor)
Included are Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” in which two waiters and a lonely customer in a Spanish cafe confront the concept of nothingness; “A & P,” John Updike’s most anthologized story and one of his most popular; “Borges and I,” typical Jorge Luis Borges — imaginative, philosophical, and mysterious; as well as short masterpieces by Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Herman Melville, Thomas Mann, Guy de Maupassant, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, D. H. Lawrence, and ten other great writers.
Short Story Masters: A collection of the works from four masters of the form (Tenebray Press Classics Book 16) Kindle Edition
by Anton Chekhov (Tchekhov) (Author), Fyodor (Fiodor) Dostoevsky (Dostoievski) (Author), O. Henry (Author), Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoi) (Author), Ted Neill (Editor)
The Greatest SF Stories of Philip K. Dick: 34 Titles in One Volume Kindle Edition
by Philip K. Dick