I love writing short stories. I spent many of my teen years writing endless short stories – although many of them were more scenes, moments – snapshots in time. But it was a way of exploring different ideas, settings, characters, thoughts, and I loved it. It was all good training for writing longer pieces.
But short stories are magical by themselves.
Over the summer, I got back into writing them and I love how you can create a little world and see it through, without having to write a whole novel. Some ideas just aren’t meant to stretch out for a whole novel. They’re smaller, more compact – bite sized. And that’s why I love them. I’ve been reading lots of short stories too recently, and really embracing them.
But I’ve realised that the one thing I struggle with is ending them.
A short story has to have a satisfactory conclusion, just as much – if not more than a novel. Short stories range in lengths, and mine tend to be on the shorter side. At times, I suppose they fizzle out because I’m not sure where to stop and don’t want to keep on pushing it. But I suppose this doesn’t always lead to the best ending.
I like to leave a bit of mystery, uncertainty, and a sense that things aren’t quite finished.
In a workshop last weekend with writer Paul McVeigh, he touched briefly on endings. It was a workshop about crafting that perfect opening, to catch the attention of editors and judges. The ending must link back to the beginning – and he advised editing the opening after finishing to reflect what happens. This makes perfect sense. Of course it does, but sometimes something so obvious needs to be told to you before you can realise it. And now I’m off to finish all those short stories…