Why Short Stories Rock: A guest post by Brief Encounters Reviews

Why Short Stories Rock

Hi everyone, Jenre and Tam here. We are the new proprietors of Brief Encounters Reviews, which focuses on reviews of m/m short stories (less than 20K). While we both still enjoy longer novels and novellas in all m/m genres, there’s something about the short story that is a bit like crack, or chocolate. Every now and then you find that perfect high, the perfect story, and it makes all the “okay” ones worthwhile. So we have come up with five reasons that short stories rock, and hope you will join us at the blog and check out some of our reviews. We love to get into discussions about the books so feel free to chime in any time.

Reason #1 – Time

Lord knows we’ve all got a million things going on in our lives. Kids, spouses, day jobs, friends, pets, errands, laundry, cooking, blogging, writing; most of us are tugged a million ways during the week, and often the weekend as well. A short story can be just the break you need. You can take 30 minutes on your lunch or before you turn out the light at night, and have a complete story experience. It can be frustrating to read a novel in 30 minute bits, sometimes not getting back to it until the next day when you’ve forgotten what you read two or three days ago. There’s always room for a short story in your day.

Reason #2 – Old friends

We’ve all read that amazing novel where we just fell in love with the characters, where they feel like real people that we know personally. Later you think “I wonder if Joe and Bob ever got that dog that was mentioned in Chapter 12.” “I wonder how those two alpha males in book Y would celebrate Valentine’s Day?” Well, a revisit in a short story is a bit like receiving a quick e-mail from friends catching you up on their life and letting you know that all is well in their little corner of the literaturverse.

Reason #3 – Meeting new friends

This can work both ways, finding new characters that you want to read more about (often we’ve sought out the novel that characters in a short story starred in) or it can be a way of deciding if an author’s style is really for you before plunking down $7 for a full-length novel. Do you like their voice? Do they write with a lot of humour? Do they use a tense or point of view that works for you, or one that makes you crazy? A short story can be the start of a wonderful romance, between you and the author or their characters.

Reason #4 – Finding new tropes

Maybe you think you hate friends-to-lovers or the geek/jock storylines; you’re not sure about BDSM, and certainly are not into anything kinky like fisting or sounds; science fiction is a total turn-off in romance … you think. A short story can be a way to dip your toe in the water of themes that might normally scare you off if you haven’t had the chance to experience them. Again, before buying an expensive novel, only to read it while covering your eyes and wincing, then kicking yourself for “wasting your money”, you can have a little taste and decide if you want a bigger portion later.

Reason #5 – Meeting new friends redux

This time we mean real people, (we know, we know, authors think their characters are real). We have met so many great people who are as enthusiastic about short stories as we are, on-line and in real life. We know shorts aren’t for everyone, some people do find them frustrating, and even we can find them so at times and end up whining about wanting MORE, but we’ve gotten to talk/meet with some wonderful authors and readers and have been able to share our passion for the short story along with them. (You can guess who’s who.)

So there are some of our reasons why we love short stories at Brief Encounters. We hope you will stop by and hi. How do you feel about short stories?  Are you a fan, an anti-fan or meh about shorts? Just remember, good things often come in small packages. :-)

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26 Responses to Why Short Stories Rock: A guest post by Brief Encounters Reviews

  1. Lily Grace says:

    What a lovely topic! I’m afraid I’m arriving a bit late to the party. But, I couldn’t resist stopping by and saying hello.
    I love short stories. I love reading them. And, I love writing them.
    As a reader, sometimes I just don’t have time to dive into a novel length story. The day job and other commitments transpire to get in my way, but I can always find time for a short story. Something short and delicious and satisfying… even if I only have twenty minutes!
    I also love to write short stories. At least in the publishing word, short stories are how I got my start, so they will always hold a special place in my heart. I guess I always thought if I could find a way to write a complete story in under 10,000 words and feel comfortable doing that, I could attempt something longer in the future. I started small, and I’m slowing working my way up to novel length stories.
    Publishers always say that novella length and novel length stories sell far better than short stories, but I firmly believe that short stories have a distinct audience and are a valued creative format. It’s not easy packing an entire story and characters into a very small amount of space. I’ve heard some people refer to short stories as ‘bits of drabble’ or the like. But, I think it’s often harder to write a short story that really packs a punch than a novel length story. In a short story, you have so many fewer words in which to convey so much.
    I’m so grateful to Tam and Jenre for tipping their hats to short stories, as I feel it’s truly an area of fiction that gets short shrift. :)

    • Tam says:

      Thanks Lily. Like most any genre there are those who think it is “less”, but there are definitely fans. I know there are people who practically swoon at a 600 page book. Umm, no. I’ll pass thanks. Something for everyone. :-)

  2. Eyre says:

    Happy birthday, Marie!

    Shorts used to bother me, but in my old age, I’ve found that I enjoy them more. I guess it’s because I can read one and not feel terribly guilty for putting aside everything I need to do since the short doesn’t take up nearly as much time. :)

    • Tam says:

      Rationalization is a wonderful thing as we get older Eyre. I definitely enjoy them more now, but like Chris said, m/m shorts are waaaaay more appealing than the ones we read in high school or college.

  3. Chris says:

    Happy birthday, Marie!! Many happy returns. :)

    I was quite startled to see my picture up there. Heh.

    And you already know that I love short stories, so….

  4. Kris says:

    Strangely, I never really became a fan of short stories until I discovered the ebook industry. I think it was a hold over from studying too many of the bloody things whilst a student. I hold my grudges well. :P

    I like them primarily as a way to introduce me to new authors – I’ve discovered so many through TP, and then the time factor. Nothing better than when you need a break to read a hot little short. Definitely makes you feel perky again. *g*

    Oh, and many happies to you, Marie! :D

    • Tam says:

      Yeah, until e-books I really didn’t know short stories exist. Plus you always had to buy a whole bunch of them. It’s not like the book stores sell 15 pages books. (That aren’t for 3 year olds.) They can definitely be the thing to perk you up in short order.

  5. Clare London says:

    Happy birthday Marie! And many thanks to Tam and Jenre for a great post.

    I’ve always liked short stories. I read a tremendous amount when I was younger and I love novels for all the reasons other readers state, but many of the stories that stayed in my mind were the short ones in anthologies we “had to” read at school. Like Ray Bradbury’s stories, which still resonate and BTW are one of the few areas of fiction I can get my short-attention-span Sons to read :).

    One of the most exciting things to me about the growth of e-publishing – and particularly in m/m of course – is that there’s the opportunity to read fiction of all lengths. This post sums up beautifully all the reasons I read it *lol* and maybe the reasons I write it, too. As an author, it’s a really exciting format. It’s a chance to make a short “slice of life” tell a proper story – it’s a challenge to curtial my rambling and adverbitis *cough* – it’s an opportunity to dabble in lots of genres I don’t have novel-length ideas or energy for. Thanks to sites like BE who encourage these stories, and the readers who want to read them! :)

    • Tam says:

      Thanks for the kind words Clare. I think it could be a challenge for those like myself who can ramble on ad nauseum to cut a story to the bone to fit a short story criteria. If nothing else it’s good writing practice and you never know when it will work just right and be a shining star.

  6. Jenre says:

    Thanks for having us, Marie, and Happy Birthday!

  7. Ella Jane says:

    Hi Tam & Jenre,

    I love that wicked “small gift” cartoon in the post! :)

    Personally I am not a big fan of short stories. I love novels and novellas but short stories are usually hit or miss. For me it’s actually the other way around: if I like an author, I make sure I also read the short stories by that author. But a short story is very difficult to pull off so to decide if I like the style of an author, I prefer to get the Kindle sample (although of course those are sometimes deceiving: that first chapter can be finely honed and full of possibilities and the rest is a big disappointment). Even when I don’t have much time to read, I still prefer a longer story: it’s like escaping to meet up with old acquaintances for a chapter or two; I actually like serialized stories (a delayed gratification thing maybe).

    One of my all-time favorite M/M short stories is “Pat Down” by James Buchanan – a perfect sexy funny story which I’ve read many times for the mere fun of it. And I agree that when a short story is good, it can really be compelling (“Pat Down” really doesn’t have a wildly original “plot” but it’s just so fun to read; it’s all in the writing and the storytelling). “Speed Trap,” also by Buchanan from her “Ready to Serve: Arresting Gay Erotica” anthology, was also pretty good. Think I’m gonna go check now if they’re as good as I remember! :)

    BTW, I enjoy reading your reviews. I’ve never written one and I’m still trying to figure out how to do that. So if you’ve written a post on that (advice or wise words based on your experience), I’d love to read it – maybe you could give the url. Or if you haven’t written such a post, you might consider doing one! :)

    • Tam says:

      Thanks Ella Jane. I have to confess Jen is much better at reviews than I am. She’s the English major and teacher so actually understand literary structure. I know what I like and ramble on. :-) We have different styles but hopefully we get out point across. So no, we’ve never written a “how to write a review” post that I know of. Sometimes you just have to dive in.

      Some people use the style: What I liked; What I disliked and keep it to 2 or 3 points for each. That can be effective for me as I can quickly see if the issues the reviewer had are ones I will have and it’s not always the case.

      James Buchanan is an awsome writer. I don’t know if I’ve read Pat Down. I’ll have to have a look.

  8. Marie Sexton says:

    Thanks for the bday wishes! And thanks to Tam and Jenre for hanging out for the day!

  9. Val Kovalin says:

    Happy Birthday, Marie!

    Tam and Jen, you’ve been slowly winning me over to short stories ’cause I love your blog. Before that, I tended to avoid them for longer fiction, but you’ve brought some very good short fiction to my attention. :)

  10. Lily says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories. I especially love follow-ups with my favorite characters from longer stories. It’s a great way to catch up with “old friends”.

    BE’s a great site to go to for info on what’s out there in short story-land. Great job, Tam and Jen!!

    • Tam says:

      Thanks Lily. It’s a lot of fun and I’m really becoming addicted to shorts. They call to the inner “oooh, shiny, new, now” gene in my reading soul. :-)

  11. Happy Birthday Marie!

    I never used to enjoy short stories all that much, and then along came parenthood and a total lack of time…

    I’ve now discovered that short stories are wonderful for all the reasons Jenre and Tam have listed above – when done well they are little slices of perfection, in a way that a longer stories can never quite be because the plots are so much more convoluted. I love writing them too, because with a short I can take the time to make sure that every word is just right and draft the whole thing multiple times until I’m happy. Doing that with a novel length story is much more arduous as I’ve recently discovered.

    I love reading short stories before going to sleep. I love discovering new authors and being surprised by wonderful plot twists. They can be the ideal place for experimentation with style and voice in a way that authors might not risk with a longer work.

    Yeah, I love shorts. Thanks for dedicating a site to reviewing them :D