Just Not Short Enough

To continue from last week, I imagine that the publishers felt the need to label The Imperfectionists a novel because short stories don’t sell as well.  This, in the age of text and tweets, is surprising.  I would have thought that short would be all the rage.  Then it occurred to me that perhaps the average short story is just not short enough.  Perhaps at 8000 words, they’re simply too long to appeal to all those enamoured with sound bites, slogans and catchphrases .  The last few years did after all see the advent of the “postcard story”.  Perhaps such stories are not just a creation of short story contests whose judges were only willing to read a limited number of pages in total.  Perhaps the contests and judges were simply reflecting the prevailing preference for even shorter narratives.  To further provide evidence of this possibility, I recently read of  “hint fiction”, stories that are 25 words or less.  And while this might sound short enough – it is after all just about the perfect length for a tweet – it has nothing on the one-word poetry contest.  The winner of which was, by the way, “despite”.  Which, I have to admit, I quite like.  Although.

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