Sunday, March 25, 2007

To cut a long story short

So the Guardian is weighing in on the subject of brevity now. They've asked well-known writers (mostly novelists) to attempt an Ernest Hemingway and write a story in 6 words. Some of the results are rather lovely (Ali Smith, of course, and Helen Fielding), some are a bit like some strange code where many words are missed out, (Jeffrey Eugenides).

I am wondering whether I appreciate this focus on the short form or whether by skipping straight from novels to a frankly ridiculous six-worder, which is not really a story in my opinion, The Guardian is rather taking the piss. I sway between the two: on the one hand, this is a welcome but extreme demonstration of how every word must count, but on the other hand, six-word-stories are not exactly a commercially viable form. Why not ask all these same novelists to cut their longest novel down to a short story or even flash fiction? Now there would be an interesting exercise in cutting away the fat!

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