I have recently signed up for a creative writing course at the City Lit. It’s a great program that offers fabulous tips to really get those creative juices flowing; I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
We have covered a number of topics looking at many genres from Drama and Poetry to Science Fiction, and looked into many intelligent ways to use memory and experience to help build our own work.
A few weeks ago, we covered the topic of short stories. I must admit, this is one of my guilty pleasures. When I was young I was addicted to Hans Christian Anderson’s bite-size tales – always so gorgeous and heartbreaking! I love that they are designed to be read straight through from beginning to end, and they are able to suck you into another world as quickly as they spit you back out.
Naturally then, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into some classic short stories during the class. But when the teacher drafted on the board the following short story by Hemingway my ideas of story ‘completeness’ – and the notion of a beginning, middle and end – were ever so slightly changed:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn”
Isn’t this just lovely, and doesn’t it make you recognise just how easy it is to capture so much in so few words?
It made me think about a recent internal communications campaign we carried out for one of our clients when they were launching their product in China. As in many organisations, gaining employees’ attention is a fight, especially through words. Rather than lengthy emails we opted to communicate the launch in a fortune cookie message, which captured the story of the launch in a short and sweet way.
So now to my ending…
Less is really more – the very best short story, and indeed any communication, will make you sit in silence on finishing, wondering just how the writer has made you think so much by saying so little.
Claire Kearney, Account Executive