Recently someone told me that her uncle really liked The Monsters’ House, which is the first story in my short story collection, Seasons of Imagination. I told her that I wasn’t too surprised, given how much symbolism there is in the story. I then said that I really don’t use a lot of symbolism in my short stories.
“Why not?” she asked.
She had me there: why not? I think it is because I typically write “flash fiction” instead of “short stories”. My typical story is made for my blog. It is usually very short. Not including the 100-word Friday Fictioneers, my typical story runs about 1,000 words. They tell a simple story. The Monsters’ House is closer to 8,000, maybe 9,000 words. It is complex. The characters have time to breath and grow. There is room for little motives and symbolism.
Still, why not? Why don’t I use more symbolism? I know it does creep into my stories, sometimes intentionally, usually not, i.e., subconsciously. But I rarely sit down and think it through.
Of course, 90% of the fiction I post is more flash than “flash fiction”. I will see a prompt and write almost stream of conscious. If I don’t have a story posted within a half of an hour of seeing the prompt, it is usually because I am too busy working. I almost never think things through before I start to write, at least for these blog-stories.
I wrote The Monster House closer to how I’ve written my novels. I will admit that my serial novels began as off the top of my head stories, but The Halley Branch and The Old Mill soon followed the way I wrote The Fireborn. That is, I have an idea. I think it through. I take a long walk and it begins to gel. I take another long walk and it solidifies even more. I start writing, taking breaks to walk and think. The stories are all written in my head, edited in my head, revised in my head, long before I put one word “on paper”.
I’ve read some “flash fiction” by other bloggers that have obviously been well thought out and researched before they were written out. And so I ask myself, should I slow down on my flash, take my time and write some stories that are a little “deeper”? Should I purposefully add those things we talked about when we analyzed classic short stories, like symbolism?
Anyway. Just some thoughts for a Monday morning.