Short stories may seem simple and straightforward when you read them, but they are, in fact, an incredibly difficult form to master.
It was Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and logician, who famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
Similarly, the short story demands time, precision and economy of the writer - only the most skilled succeed!
Here, we take a look at some of the most skilled short story writers. Tell us your top picks on Twitter!
British novelist, Jeffrey Archer has topped best seller lists around the world. Known for his ingenious plotting, vivid characters and unexpected twists, Archer’s short stories pull you in from the first word and constantly surprise you. “Caste-Off” is just one example his expert way with words, following Jamwal and Nisha, who fall in love waiting for the traffic lights to change.
A L Kennedy
Not content with reaching the Booker Prize shortlist this year with her novel ‘Serious Sweet’, A L Kennedy is also known for being a brilliant short story writer. Her collection, ‘What Becomes’ was lauded by critics when it was released. A L Kennedy’s voice is both witty and angry, though prevailingly known for its bleakness. In her short stories, Kennedy delves into the lives of people who are lonely, trapped in their own heads, and terrified of communicating with one another.
Read What Becomes
Loved around the world for his books, poems and short stories, Roald Dahl is a master wordsmith. With one of the most wickedly wonderful imaginations out there, Dahl conjures other worlds, monsters and dastardly characters. Dahl’s short stories include “The Butler”, “The Hitchhiker” and “The Surgeon”. In the latter, when a precious diamond goes missing and turns up on the operating table, a burglar has some explaining to do!
Read Dahl’s short stories
Doris Lessing has been one of the UK’s best loved authors for going on forty years now. Lessing’s unique skill is her ability to observe life in all its mundane-ness in a witty and empathetic way. The short stories in the magnificent To Room Nineteen look at everything from a middle class marriage to a workman who becomes obsessed with a sunbather. Capturing the human spirit is what Lessing excels at, with this collection showcasing just that.
Read To Room Nineteen
Listen to broadcaster, Sue Cook interviewing three bestselling children’s authors on what makes a good short story, courtesy of National Short Story week: