Eudora Welty explains why all short stories are not potential novels

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 5.53.10 PMIf you like Southern fiction, you may have read the book Conversations with Eudora Welty (I highly recommend it).

In an interview with Alice Walker (Summer of 1973), this was Welty’s reply when Walker asked if she thought all short stories were potential novels:

“No, they are two different things. I think that one of my faults as a novelist is that I don’t think as a novelist does. I think the short story is a sustained thing, all in one piece, and compact. You don’t have any of the expansion and scope that the novel can have. So any time I’ve made the mistake of writing a short story that became a novel I’ve had to go back and start at the beginning again. It’s like starting for the long jump or the short hop. You don’t have the same impulse.”

Based on my own experience, Welty is right as rain. When I wrote THE MEDIUM, a short story, and THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE, a novella, my mind’s eye naturally saw a tidy story, not a lingering show. Then this year, when I started to write my first novel, my mind’s eye saw something different — an expanded drama where the characters and story elements slowly unfold.

I enjoy reading all types of story lengths, but I especially admire writers who can pack a big story into a small space. Here are a few examples of wonderful stories packed into about 100 pages. Do you have any favorites?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Why I love to read author interviews

Author Interviews

There are two writing magazines that I enjoy reading, The Writer and Writer’s Digest, and my favorite segments are the author interviews.

There is so much you can learn about an author from an interview that’s not on the back cover of a book or an author’s website. In particular, I think it’s fascinating to read about an author’s writing process and what influences his or her writing. And if I enjoyed the interview and have not read any of the author’s books, that’s an added bonus; I like discovering new authors to read.

If you are like me and enjoy reading author interviews (where secrets are often revealed), please enjoy these two interviews:

  • Kathy Reinhart, Ink Drop Interviews & Reviews, interviews author Linda Westphal: Define a great book; Tell us about the picture on the cover of your book THE MEDIUM; Tell us about the theme running through your book THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE; and, more – View the interview
  • Lisa Montanino, Accidental Bohemian, asks author Linda Westphal about writing, reading, life – View the interview