Hello, gentle readers! Welcome to Monday! Hope you survive the experience!
Last Friday I wrote a short fictional piece called Anathemas. It was inspired by the date, Friday the 13th, and the mythology that have sprung up around it. You can find the story on this blog, if you’d like to read it. It won’t even take that much of your time; it isn’t a very long story.
I enjoy writing short fiction, but it makes me nervous too. Too many times I’ve had people tell me that my short fiction, complete unto itself in my eyes, reads like the first chapter of a longer story, one they’d like to keep reading.
On the one hand, it’s very gratifying to learn that I can engage a reader. However, it bugs me when they tell me my short fictions reads like a first chapter.
It’s not intended to be a first chapter, it’s not written as a first chapter. It’s short fiction, complete unto itself.
Or, at least, it’s supposed to be.
Which makes me wonder. Am I doing something wrong?
A lot of my short fiction is what I think of as ‘mood pieces.’ One of the first pieces I self-published was The Finishers. Set in a world where the zombie apocalypse has come and gone, where humanity has adjusted to the new rules, it follows a typical night in the lives of two ‘finishers,’ Tobias and Archer. They’re a bit like bug exterminators, going around and ‘finishing’ the new-risen dead. The tag line for the story was, "It’s not an adventure, it’s a job."
The story is basically an examination of the generational gap between Tobias and Archer. Tobias is older, he remembers the world before things changed, when dead people stayed dead. Archer grew up in the new world, where it’s normal for the dead to rise. While Archer is blithe about their job, Tobias is not.
The Finishers isn’t a complex story. It’s not very long. There are two scenes of violence and nothing particularly gory. None of the zombies in the story devour anyone. It’s these two guys, with fundamentally different world-views and reactions, driving around in a van.
That’s what I wanted to portray in the story and, I think, I achieved it.
Sadly, The Finishers is one of the stories that people often remark upon as ending too soon. That drives me up the wall.
So what to do?
The answer is simple: nothing.
What can I do? The story is finished. When it’s done, it’s done.
I suppose, it’s a bit like cooking. No one seasons the same dish the same way. Some people put hot peppers in their vegetable soup, while others don’t. The soup is still edible, it just may not be to everyone’s taste. And you can’t satisfy everyone.
Ultimately, when you write, you have to satisfy yourself. You have to write the story that you want to write, to tell it the way you want to, to end it as you think it should end.
And if people think that your ending is too abrupt? That your story should have been longer?
Well, there’s always the possibility of a sequel.