Sunday 22 August 2010

Death By Killing

I spend a lot of time reading stories, whether as novels or shorts. I'm still not up to e-readers, so those I choose are either on the page or online.

I love short work. It's very distinct from its longer relations the novella and novel. There's a lot to get in and only a limited amount of space to work with. A good piece will hang around with you for days.

It's as if, by concentrating everything into the one movement, a writer is able to deliver a knockout blow by saving all their energy as they avoid throwing jabs, hooks and feints. There's some dancing around the ring, may be a low blow here or there, possible a hold or two, but you can't have too much of anything - all needs balance and focus.

As a writer, I'm completely aware of some of the differences.

It might be that for me a short story is the form in which I work best. A novel (I'm over half way through one as I write here) is a very different proposition. My mind struggles to hold in all the detail and all the characters, not forgetting that the characters don't always react in the way that I thought they might when I started.

Thanks to gifted and commited editors out there, you can see my work in a range of places. It might be that the same will never be said of my novel, so there's another difference.

Over at the blog 'Death By Killing' Chris Rhatigan is doing something new.

He's set up a site entirely devoted to the short form. He's going to review individual stories and offer more general opinions on the art.

Normally it's collections that get this level of attention, so it's a brilliant concept.

As writers we'll be able to get a chance to see why things work or don't.

As readers we'll be directed to places and to authors we might otherwise have missed.

For me Chris is offering the short story the respect it deserves. It's a vindication for sites like 'A Twist Of Noir', 'Beat To A Pulp' and 'Pulp Metal', a shot in the arm for 'Crimespree', 'Needle', 'Crimefactory' and their kin.

I'm also impressed by Chris' ability to give a rounded opinion. You get an overview of a story, a sense of where it stands in terms of the author's portfolio and an opinion of strenths and weaknesses that comes from an informed postition.

If you're anything like me and like the art of short fiction, add his blog to your favourites right away. You'll find it at:

A lethal injection of short crime fiction indeed, and a very welcome one.


  1. Thanks for the support, Nigel. I appreciate it.

    Just for reference, I totally stole the concept for my blog from 'Nasty, Brutish, Short.' I figured there might be room for more than one short story review site on the web.

    And "review" might not be the right word (even though I've been using it!) about what I do, because I don't plan on putting up any negative opinions. Let's face it: almost everyone in short fiction is doing it for love, not money, so who am I to snub my nose at that?

    The blog gives me an excuse to sit down and read a lot of crime fiction, which is awesome. So basically I read a whole bunch of stuff, and then talk about the ones I really liked, hopefully that results in a few more readers and gets a discussion going on the form I love so dearly.

  2. Great site! It's in my bookmarks now and forevermore. Thanks for the heads up, Nigel.