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Posted on October 16, 2011

I wish I could write good short stories. I have written several, had about ten published, but few of them are what I regard as decent; two have been collected in the anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski , but I don’t think they’re particularly outstanding. A short story is a thing of unique beauty, much as a miniature is in painting; it requires different skills to writing a novel.

Short stories are hard. In a relatively low number of words, the writer must create the world and its atmosphere, introduce the protagonist and other main characters, create a conflict and lead the reader through to a resolution; all this must be done without appearing to rush.

Short stories gobble up ideas, and ideas are precious; they’re precious in any sort of fiction, doubly so in crime fiction. I don’t have many good ideas, and it always seems a waste to use them in short stories if they might help to make the next novel better (perhaps as a subplot).

Nevertheless, one of my dreams is to write the perfect short story, one that is elegant and refined, and one that leaves the reader satisfied.

Tags: elegance, Mammoth Book of British Crime, Short stories