I’m off to the Cascade Writers workshop this weekend, where I’ll be an instructor. One of the things I’ll be doing is giving a talk on “The Purpose and Practice of Short Stories.” I have a few ideas, but I thought I’d ask you as well: what do you think is the purpose — or, indeed, the point — of writing short stories these days?
David D. Levine is the author of Andre Norton Nebula Award winning novel Arabella of Mars, sequels Arabella and the Battle of Venus and Arabella the Traitor of Mars, and over fifty SF and fantasy stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. Stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Tor.com, numerous Year’s Best anthologies, and his award-winning collection Space Magic.
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For the writer, I think short stories are good practice, but they do offer value in their own right in being able to encapsulate concise ideas neatly. Silly Asses by Isaac Asimov is a classic example of that. It really doesn’t need to be a novel to make the point. Short stories are also easier to turn into films without tossing major elements. Most novels really need to be turned into tv series, not movies, if they’re to be filmed.