Monday, 14 November 2011

In Defence Of Short Stories #18: Jess C Scott

Jess C Scott
More short story writer goodness this week, this time courtesy of Jess C Scott, who is the author of new collection of flash fiction 'SKINS', on animal rights and the deplorable exotic skins trade. And anyone ends a piece with an Oscar Wilde quote is alright by me.

Take it away Jess...

I've always liked reading and writing short stories. I sometimes work on 55-word exercises to develop a technical style that possesses clarity and brevity.

Flash fiction (a category which the 55-word story falls under) allows me to get to the point quickly and without any fuss. 

For example:

No Answer (from my writing portfolio, Porcelain)

"It's so bright!" my younger sister exclaimed. She pointed to the planet Venus, which was high in the night sky. "Will it be there always?"

"Sure it will," I answered, straining as I thought the planet had flickered for a split second.

Suddenly it disappeared altogether.

"Could that happen to Earth?"

I couldn't answer her.

Father Bear & Baby Bear (from my flash fiction collection, Skins)

“Congratulations on your first kill, son!”

Junior proudly held up the fresh kill he’d made, as blood seeped into and soaked the ground below.

Junior finally felt like he was somebody ready to face the world—he had a human head to mount on his wall now.

“Your mother will be so proud of you.”

I like working in a variety of forms and genres. While I do write full-length novels, it is poetry and short stories--the two genres which are the most disdained in terms of commercial marketability--that have helped me the most with regards to writing.

Poetry is all about precision and aesthetics, while short stories allow a writer to continuously explore new styles, themes and concepts. A poem or short story can also turn out to be the foundation for an expanded, more developed piece. 

The short story, like poetry, is an art form. It requires discipline on the writer's part to be succinct (it is a form that allows less opportunities for "word padding"), and it requires effort because the focus is on quality (substance) over quantity (word count). 

Any writer that doesn't respect these forms (whether or not they choose to work in these forms) is an individual that lacks respect for the actual craft of writing.

Some commercially successful writers can get very aggressive and outspoken about how artistic integrity isn't a requirement to be a commercially successful. I like to think of what John Ruskin had to say on the subject: "All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time."

Writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Vladimir Nabokov, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, J. G. Ballard, Anais Nin, and D. H. Lawrence have all written memorable and superlative short stories.

As the great Oscar Wilde once stated:

"Anybody can write a three-volume novel. It merely requires a complete ignorance of both life and literature."

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