The Trend of Brevity

I was happy to read the recent article in The New York Times about the rise in the short story market. Whatever the rationale for such a demand in shorter fiction, whether it is necessitated by the ubiquitousness of small mobile devices or a result of our busy, multi-tasked lives, I am glad to see it, because it is one of my favorite formats. From short prose stories to short screenplays and stageplays to short non-fiction essays, the more the better.

Short stories have been an important part of literature for a long time (and back in September 2010 I shared with you a list of my favorite short fiction writers), so this isn't something new, but it's interesting to see the publishing industry increase the output of short-form books, especially in the digital marketplace. My Kindle is already loaded with some of them, which I've written about before, such as the tales of Luc Reid and Jim Knipfel. The demand for such nuggets of fiction is motivating me to dust off some of my own short stories -- "Pious the King," "That Merry Wanderer of the Night," "M.I.N.D.L.I.N.C.," and others -- and see if there might be a new audience for them.

Even though I have a bunch of screenplays and stageplays that I seem to have been developing forever, the most positive results have been with the short scripts -- my short student films, my Dream Fragments anthology play, and my quartet of short movie scripts called The Water Cycle.  Although they still take as much blood, sweat, and tears to create as the feature length stories, I can knock out a batch of them in the time it takes me to write a first draft of the average 120-page traditional script.

Lately, what has grabbed my attention most have been the short essays. Of course, I've enjoyed my daily blogging exercise, but I've also been working on two book projects -- a compilation of essays on acting and one about the difference between science fiction and fantasy. I've been soaking up a number of books that are short-form non-fiction -- Daniel M. Kimmel's Jar Jar Binks Must Die and the Rob Fleder edited Damn Yankees, just to name two.

As more and more people communicate through the shorthand of text messaging and social media status updates, it is no surprise that they are consuming more bite-sized content. That's a good thing for readers and writers alike.