As a Northerner, I am not greatly given to superlatives, unless they feature sweary words, but this evening’s session on the BBC Short Story Award featured three writers – two of whom I am encountering for the first time – whose work is absolutely top dollar. These were D W Wilson, Joe Dunthorne and Krys Lee. Apart from reading powerful extracts from their work, they had some great insights to share about what makes a short story special. Stories that take a ‘left turn’ for example. Then there was D W Wilson’s observation that ‘ a good story is like the sky reflected in a puddle,’ and Krys Lee saying she was motivated by problems she experienced in the Universe (as opposed to the challenges of form or language).
DW mentioned that the difference between writing a novel and writing a short story is like building a house versus building a cabinet: they both require the same materials, but with the cabinet, there’s a greater chance of perfection. So, it seems to me, it’s like writing a symphony as compared to writing a string quartet.
My pile of early morning reading just got larger.