Saturday, March 16, 2024

A Midnight Symposium in Orlando


Last night, I found myself at a table not far from the pool, talking with a batch of friends about snakes, cigars, animal control officers, fifty-thousand-dollar turtles, and such. The usual. But around midnight, people began to drift off to bed, leaving Ellen Klages, Madeleine Robbins, Walter Jon Williams, Emma Bull and me to talk about short fiction.

Oh, what a conversation that was! "With the hoofs and horns still on it," as R. A. Lafferty used to say. There was a particular emphasis on the works of Kelly Link and Howard Waldrop because even among the wild productions of genre writers, they're outliers, stories whose very existence is hard to explain. Oh, and stories of Clarions (east, west, and south) we've attended or taught, lessons learned and lessons almost impossible to make students understand...

An enchanted evening. And then, everybody reached the end simultaneously, stood up, and went back to our rooms. Leaving the hotel grounds by the lake empty, because we were the last writers standing.

And because I know that . . .

There will be gonnabe writers reading this, hoping to find a trail of breadcrumbs out of the dark forest. I'll offer them a single crouton, Howard's explanation of the distinction between a short story and a novel:

A short story is about the most important event in the protagonist's life. A novel is about the most important period in the protagonist's life.

Which, properly employed, should help you recognize what length of fiction the story you're working on wants to be.

Above, l-r: E. Klages, M. Robbins, E. Bull, W. J. Williams. Photographer, also present: M. Swanwick


1 comment:

Joanne Burke said...

Well. I will have to think about how that applies to short films. Because I think it does.