Sometimes, though I am extremely fond of huge long books, I enjoy the novella or even an occasional short story. Short stories and novellas must be excellent at the beginning, through the middle, and at the end in a way that novels can slide a bit on. If a good novel has a few scenes that aren't quite on point, as long as they are well written, the reader won't be too phased. The novella and especially the short story doesn't have that luxury. Every word must count. Like writing an opinion piece for a newspaper, each sentence must carry meaning. Flash fiction is even more demanding because it must carry the plot and meaning in each word choice. I like long novels because they have the time to give back stories or give lessons about plants and herbs (think Clan of the Cave Bear or Heir to Power) or weave several stories and plots together (think Lord of the Rings) as long as the stuff is interestingly written. Short stories have other strengths: Clean straight-line plots; no long winded rabbit-hole paths; no huge cast of characters to remember. One of my favorite stories, Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., was one that I read in a condensed form which allowed the point of the story to be sharper. I enjoyed the longer version but the short version hit home so much better. To give you a taste of the various stories written in shorter forms my next few reviews will be short books, novella, and short novels beginning with Ryann by Paul Dorset.
by Paul Dorset