How do you write an effective short story?
How are you going to grab your reader with the first sentence and keep them hooked to the end?
How do you write something accessible and engaging but with much more going on underneath – a story that will live on in the reader’s imagination?
How do you get to write something strong enough to be published in The New Yorker?
To create effective fiction you need to immerse yourself in the effects created by the best practitioners. This means reading as writer not as a literary critic – there is a difference. Reading as a writer you’re always asking – How did they do that? Why did that work?
Better than any ‘How To’ book is simply to read widely and read as a writer.
Here, in no particular order, are a few authors that every would-be short story writer might want to dip into: Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Flannery O’Connor; and more recently William Trevor, Grace Paley, Amy Bloom, Joyce Carol Oates, Rose Tremain, Haruki Murakami, Tim Winton, David Foster Wallace, Ali Smith, Lorrie Moore, Jayne Anne Phillips, Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Donald Barthelme, William Gass, Alice Munro, George Saunders, A. M. Homes.
So it’s wonderful to come across The New Yorker Fiction Podcast, the backlist of which contains several writers on my roll call. Each month a leading fiction writer selects a short story – previously published in The New Yorker – they read it and then talk to NY fiction editor Deborah Treisman.
I’ve just listened to Joshua Ferris reading George Saunders’s story “Adams” – afterwards he talked about how Saunders had voiced the piece and more.
Each month a new author/story is added, and, its FREE.
I’ve just subscribed and have the entire backlist in iTunes – quite a library. I’m off to find a hard copy of the Saunders’s story. I can’t wait to read it on the page.