Form – Short Stories

I do not want to touch too much on this literary form as we have a site at BellaOnline specifically focused for short stories. But being the literary fiction site it would be remiss of me not to mention short stories as an extremely relevant and vital literary fiction form. This is not to say that all short stories are literary fiction because short stories carry their own genres like books do.

The most basic determinant of a short story is word count. To fall under the title of short story they must range in length from 1000 to 15,000 words. The decision of whether a short story is literary fiction or not is pretty much the same as for books; in literary fiction the “language is heavier, the imagery lush, the characters detailed and story line thought provoking.” Like literary fiction books, literary short fiction has notable awards to distinguish it. “Literary fiction is not about chick lit, mystery, science fiction or horror…If it doesn’t fit into a genre of its own then you’ve probably found yourself some literary fiction.”

I have to admit other than the occasional literary magazine containing short stories or the occasional collection of reviews a publisher may send I spend little to no time on short stories. I think this is probably generally reflective of the majority of the population. They just are not publicized as much. This is not to say there isn’t talent there. Many short story writers go on to write longer length pieces, often spurred by their initial short stories. Imagine what Oprah could do for the short story form if she highlighted an author’s collection.

Keep an eye out for:

Five Classic Short Stories

  • A Rose for Emily (William Faulkner)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Story of an Hour (Kate Chopin)
  • Twice Told Tales (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • Melville’s The Piazza Tales (Herman Melville)

Five Modern Short Stories

  • Runaway (Alice Munroe)
  • Licks of Love (John Updike)
  • In the Garden of North American Martyrs (Tobias Wolff)
  • Changing Planes (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)

Ten Literary Journals Featuring Short Stories

This article was posted 6/24/2009 at the Literary Fiction site at BellaOnline.

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