Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The New Short Story Part I

The best opportunity for those seeking to compete in the arena of literature is the once-glorious American short story, which is no longer a popular art form. To judge by mainstream products, it's in poor shape.

The story needs to be reinvented. This is simpler than it seems. The Beatles reinvented rock n roll with a few tweaks-- superficial changes which gave the shock of the new. Standard rock n roll astutely repackaged.
My interest is not in literary stories but pop stories. That's what was successful in the past. That's the way to capture an audience.

That doesn't mean redoing O. Henry. It means accomplishing a few of the same objectives: readability; form; fun; humor or color: "popness."

Wred Fright's short fiction isn't O. Henry, but achieves some similar things. His pieces are new and artistically innovative, and so present one possible direction for the pop story.

Another direction is in combinations of simplicity and melodrama.

The models to be followed will be found in the stories we write.

1 comment:

Frank Marcopolos said...

Karl, I agree, and would put it this way. The focus of the story should be on plot -- engaging the reader in a deeply moving, emotional narrative. After that, themes, etc can be buried underneath for the reader if s/he wants them, and then style goes on top like a seasoning. Plot-driven fiction is the way, IMO!

The "literary" fiction you're talking about here, I think, is too often character-driven, where the main character spends a lot of time in his own head, staring at his own navel, not taking action to accomplish anything. To me, those are character sketches, not stories.