Small Gems: writing short stories, what is left out?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, & Abbas El-Zine on the Art of Short Stories at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee. Photo: Cath Piltz Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee.
Photo: Cath Piltz

The short story can be a challenging form, as the writers in the Small Gems session, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, Qaisra Shahaz and Abbas El-Zein, agreed. More is omitted and inferred than is included.

But what participating chair Abbas El-Zein wants to know is: do omissions heighten or limit the form?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, an Australian spoken-word poet of Afro-Caribbean descent, believes that “what is left out, is the beauty of short stories”.

“It stirs-up curiosity, possibilities, raises issues, and introduces a character,” she added.

Abbas El-Zein responded by reciting two of the shortest stories ever written:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The author of this six-word story is unknown.

And Knock by Fredric Brown: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

Kate De Goldi

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