Story vs Novel

They say “A picture is worth a thousand words” but for a self confessed book lover, thousands of words are much more tempting than a mute canvas. In fact, the more the merrier.

Right now, I am reading 852 pages long Fall of Giants by Ken Follette and I just can’t stop gushing about the writing prowess and terse narration of the prodigious writer.

But, in my heart of hearts, I have always felt that writing an effective short story is much more challenging than writing a novel. While the novel is a full canvas which can be painted in as many vivid colors and themes, as the painter desires. A short story is restricted to the narrow borders of the canvas. It definitely requires more skill to paint a beautiful intricate border, crying for attention as compared to the entire painting.

Moreover, in case of a novel, a reader is ready to suffer a few obscure pages, as build up to a great story, or, in anticipation of a good twist. But, in the limited horizon of a short story, the writer has to entice his reader in the beginning itself, lest he may leave the story in the middle.

Given the limited time and short attention span, the short stories do not involve the readers emotionally, and can thus be altogether abandoned at a faster rate, as compared to the long drawn out novels, which are able to form an emotional bond with the reader.

Moreover, the collection of stories suffer from another handicap. Usually, only the first few stories of the collection are good, with the creative talent of the writer evaporating with each successive ones, becoming repetitive and boring.

Due to all these factors, I often shied away from collection of short stories, despite the fact that Accursed House, ‘Cabuliwallah’ and ‘Living or Dead’ are my eternal favorites and I can read these stories as many times as I want.

But in last couple of years I overcame all my apprehensions as I devoured the short stories by R. K. Narayan, Rabindranath Tagore and Chitra Divakaruni. A well packaged short story collection can be as satisfying as a novel and at times even more entertaining as the subject and protagonists change every few pages providing a fresh perspective.

Encouraged by Arranged Marriage, I have bought a huge collection of Sherlock Holmes stories as well as downloaded the short stories by Guy De Maupassant and Oscar Wilde. Hopefully, my love with the briefer form of literature would attain new heights as I read these stalwarts.

Happy reading….

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