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Yes – yes, I know but… while I’m in the mood. Very soon theatre will catch up with me: just last night Nina set me to rework an oldish adaptation, and drama school begins in a couple of weeks, and then the Season… oh dear, let’s not even get there!

But before the madness starts, there are a couple more things about short stories I’d like to jot down here. I was a few months into my experiment when I came across this quotation within a quotation of Neil Gaiman saying that Roger Zelazny once told him to…

Write short stories as if they were the last chapter of a novel he’d never written.

I was immediately struck with the idea, because of what it says about implying, suggesting the backstory, and with it the world the story belongs to. Writing short doesn’t mean writing small – but “everything else”, all those unwritten previous chapters must be there, weighing and throwing long shadows.

This is not only true of the short form, of course: storytelling (whether on the page or on the stage) is always a highly selective activity, that creates its own depth by making “everything else” felt. In a short story there is limited room to do this, so one must work harder at it.

I’ve been working on that approach, and found it quite rewarding. Then there is always the question of whether I delude myself in thinking I’ve achieved the goal because I know what’s behind the story – but that’s for readers to tell.

And then I found again this post on Karavansara… It dates back to the time when I was chewing on the notion of writing more short stories – but I hadn’t started yet, and that’s perhaps why I wasn’t suitably enlightened when I read this advice to…

Begin as close as you can to the action.

Yes, it sounded wise – but in a rather hazy, theoretical manner… As I said, I hadn’t started on my year-long experiment yet. Now that I have, I see the gem for what it is. It is related to the above piece of wisdom (as well as to the ABDCE approach) – but it is not quite the same. More practical, if you like, and more concerned with the What, rather than the How… It is, after all, also very much like the good old In Medias Res

Now the story for September is nearly finished – and it definitely doesn’t begin as close as it can to the action. I don’t think it would quite work, in this case – a reminder of the fact that there are nine and sixty ways, etc…

But I’m definitely going to play with it next month.

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