What inspires you to write short stories?
I take short stories as a challenge and as a way to create a quick story that resonates with readers. When I say challenge, I like to post most of my stories on my blog with minimal editing. This makes me write using the best words and format possible. As I go into the project, I envision the voice or style and then run with it, knowing that what I write is concrete and I need to make it the best possible.
I see short stories as a charcoal drawing. Obviously, with an oil painting I can experiment with colors, focal points, etc. But with charcoal, it’s monochrome. I have to take two basic colors and blend it, distort it, and contrast it as much as I can to evoke meaning, emotion, and resonance.
Characters, plot, and writing style: Put them in order of importance.
In my personal short stories, I would say writing style take prominence, followed by plot, then characters. When an author has very little space to craft a story, it is the way the words flow and are strung together that makes the most difference. Plot would be the reason I am writing a particular story (am I telling an emotion, posing a question, making a statement, etc.), but that is carried out by my characters. Sometimes I hinge the story on the characters, other times they are merely placeholders for a broader theme.
Do you write everyday or when you feel inspired?
I try to write every day (whether that’s actually penning a tale or editing another), but more often than not I find myself simply waiting for inspiration, then I fill the pages with stories and new chapters in my novel.
What challenges you and what intrigues you as a short fiction author?
I think the biggest thing I struggle with is making 500 words matter. When I am writing my novel, I have a bit more leniency to allow 500 words to drag or to be dependent on other sections of text. However, short fiction (and namely flash fiction), requires a story to be told (beginning, middle, end) within 500 words or so. I have to constantly think through what I am saying, how I’m saying it, and whether I am saying it as concisely as possible.
Ironically, that is the very same thing that intrigues me about writing flash fiction. I have to say what I want to say in a limited space. I don’t have the luxury of writing leading chapters or connecting ideas across the span of a novel. I have to pack a punch and deliver the message in 500 words. I like that. I like being forced to look at a complex issue and boil it down to a concentrated drop of wonder.
Any advice for short fiction authors?
— To anyone currently writing short fiction or wanting to write it: Make sure your story actually tells a story. It isn’t enough to limit a tale to 500 words– you must make sure it is independent of other stories or exposition. There needs to be a purpose for the reader to spend time to read those words in and of itself. They aren’t a prologue to another tale. They are the tale itself, and you must compound it into a single, quick jab.
You can find Kevin Barrick online at his blog: www.creativitybrewing.blogspot.com
You can also find him on Twitter: @KevinBarrick
You can also buy or preorder his books here: