Monday, 28 May 2012

Patrick Gale, Quote of the Month AUGUST

Patrick Gale
"I'm under no illusions that the short story is an easy form simply because of its brevity. The few that succeed somehow pack the wallop of a novel into a tiny space. I don't look got for twists or surprises particularly and I'm equally interested in material that is sad, funny or sinister, but will be looking for stories that leave me feeling I've had a good meal emotionally, not just a starter..."

I thought that Gale's novel Notes from an Exhibition was a wonderful read; the Cornish Art theme he'd chosen really held the human story together. But I've never read a short story by him, so I was interested in his assessment of what makes a good one. I was not completely sure about 'pack the wallop of a novel' because really, a short story is a very wide form indeed and it need not resemble a novel in any way at all. But I what he's getting at here. It is synonymous with 'good meal emotionally', which is an interesting analogy; immediately I thought about my completed stories and asked myself 'have I created a good meal? And with the stories I've never sold, is that what is wrong with them...that they are only a starter?' I suppose you could extend the metaphor...maybe my poor, unsold stories are indigestible, or liable to give you food poisoning...or maybe I seem to be offering meat and two veg, but actually what the reader gets is a cheap jam tart. Maybe I think I've got a tasty three-courser, when really it's a dog's dinner...

Enough of this! Patrick Gale is judging this year's Bridport Short Story Prize; the one every writer wants to win because it will fast-track their career...and offers enough prize money to take enough time off work and complete that novel. As Fay Weldon, Bridport patron, says...the eyes of writers everywhere light up...

I guess most of my readers have at least thought about submitting something to Bridport. So a quick reminder if you haven't done so yet this year...the competition closes at midnight on 31st May; you have but four days to create the perfect meal!

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