With increased compression, every word, every sentence matters more. A writer must learn how to form narratives around caesuras and crevices instead of strings of connections, to move a story through the symbolic weight of images, to master the power of suggestion.
With elegant prose, deep readings of other writers, and scaffolded writing exercises, The Art of Brevity takes the reader on a lyrical exploration of compact storytelling, guiding readers to heighten their awareness of not only what appears on the page but also what doesn't.
The Art of Brevity: Crafting the Very Short Story by Grant Faulkner was published in February of 2023 by the University of New Mexico Press.
As someone who moderates a monthly writing group at our local library, I am always impressed by my fellow writers who can do well with the short story medium. My best success has been with those that float at about ten pages or so. I have not, however, been able to master the one-to-two page variety. That's where Faulkner's book could come in handy.
Faulkner is the executive director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as well as the cofounder of 100 Word Story. So, he knows a lot about writing, both in long form and very short form. By providing insights and examples from authors who excel at this skill, he gives advice on how to tackle this exercise where "less is more". Each chapter also ends with a "flashpoint", a writing exercise to practice the technique of the chapter.
This book taught me a lot of things to add to my writing toolset.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen was a bibliography in the back. Faulkner refers to so many solid sources and examples that having a single section at the end of the book to summarize them would have been very beneficial.