Short Story Essays

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An occasional evening, a lazy Sunday, regular commuter flights.

Then there’s the insatiable who can devour a whole opus like weightless caramel corn, reading between every crack in day or night until the last page is turned.

An essay typically unfurls a focused discussion of any topic, from concrete to abstract, that expresses the author’s personal viewpoint. White, with his “Once more to the lake,” Virginia Woolf and her “Death of the Mother,” or even Robert Ebert, the late great Chicago Tribune film critic, who penned “Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Also residing on the 1000-word-or-less medium are the more esoteric epistles or letters or missives, the latter reserved for the angry at heart. As a mostly modern incantation, nor should we forget so-called “flash fiction” pieces that might also be described as “very short stories” or humorously as “short short stories” (humorously because brevity shuns repetition) or postcard fiction or micro-fiction…or whatever name fits around a narrow-waisted tale that might be told around a campfire or tea or brewski in few words, but yet still contains the essential features of a little book.

Guys like Michel de Montaigne and Charles Lamb are cited in Wikipedia, but few will know them unless drilling into the footnote of an Ivy League lit text. These are usually aimed at a group of specific people who share common credentials or beliefs, and often start with a pre-emptive warning, an “Open Letter to…” I remember reading Roy Childs, Jr.’s “Objectivism and the State, an Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” in which he parsed no words for the provocative Ms. And then there’s the literary legend himself, the late great Ernest Hemingway, who told the shortest story ever, maybe at Harry’s Bar in Venice, California.

Assuming there are 325 words on a typical paperback book page, that’s 11 to 23 pages.

On a single MS Word page using size 12 Times New Roman font and spacing at 1.1, this translates to between six and 13 pages fully typed.

Let them all flow through your leafy dendrites before you make the final call on how you would like your story told.

Essays, Epistles, Flash Fiction & More If it’s under 1000 words, it’s an essay, though it might be an essay by a different color and gait.

More to reality, we all go through phases; sometimes we read a little, sometimes we read a lot, sometimes we’re all over the place.

And of course there’s the matter of times and places.


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