Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Daphne du Maurier became famous writing novels, but before they wrote novels, they published short stories.
As its name suggests, a short story is a work of art that is shorter than a novel. The great Edgar Allan Poe once said that a short story can be read in one sitting, with a range of half an hour to two hours.
A short story can contain a few thousand words. It usually focuses on one main character, plot, and theme. It also can have a few other characters, but not as many as those in novels.
Contrary to what many people think, short stories are not dead. They’re definitely here to stay in this visual and digital era.
Here are 5 reasons why you should read short stories:
1. Short stories don't take much of your time.
Time is money and short stories never took much of anyone’s time. Take it from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1842), which takes less than 30 minutes to read for the average reader.
If you think that 30 minutes is not enough to instil fear into the mind of a reader without using supernatural elements, try reading it.
2. Short stories are a great escape for busy people.
Let’s face it, we live in a fast paced world, and squeezing a novel in on a working week is difficult.
Short stories are precise with their delivery and must capture the attention of the reader fairly quickly, and tell a full tale from beginning to end in roughly a half hour of reading.
Plus, reading helps you escape your daily troubles. Stories are proof of that. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. Because of this, stories have a unique ability to build connections.
3. Short stories are a great fallback if you’re not in the mood for books.
No one should ever stop reading. However, there are times when you’re not in the mood for reading a full length novel. Finishing a novel is such a big commitment.
If you still want to stimulate your mind without having to read hundreds, if not thousands of pages, you can read short stories such as The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1948) and Butterflies by Ian McEwan (1975).
4. Short stories have lots of genres.
Short stories give you an opportunity to explore as many genres as you want. Action, horror, historical, romance— you name it, the list of short story genres has it.
From Daphne Du Maurier’s supernatural Please Don't Look Now (1973) to Ernest Hemingway’s war-themed Big Two-Hearted River (1925), finding a genre that suits you won’t be hard.
5. Short stories are free.
The world is a library that contains all forms of literature, but not all of them are free.
But many short stories are. Thousands of short stories are available online for free, with easily downloadable formats. Thanks to the internet, you can now read without having to break the bank. Websites where you can access short stories for free include Wattpad, Narrative Magazine and Midnight Breakfast.
So if you haven’t read a short story yet, it's time for you to step out of your comfort zone and take the plunge. After all, it won’t take much of your time.