Last week, my mum sent up some cuttings from the weekend papers, as is her wont. We don't really have papers in the house, not having time to read them. She had earmarked a feature in the Telegraph Review for my attention. It's all about the place of short stories in the modern literary landscape - they're apparently enjoying "a remarkable renaissance" due to their wide availability, often for free, on ezines, blogs and so on.
They can certainly be a great way for new authors to showcase their wares, particularly if they haven't yet got a novel ready, as anyone can obviously release a single short story or a collection on Kindle. Traditional publishers wouldn't touch a book of shorts by an unknown writer with a bargepole. And it's much easier for writers to hone their skills with the help of the internet. I cut my teeth on the great free site ABC Tales, where writers give critiques on each others' work. Some of those I polished on the site were later published.
If you want a shot at something nice to put on your CV, I think you could do worse than have a look at the Telegraph's Short Story Club. Each month this year, you can submit a short story of up to 2000 words - anything you like, there are no themes. There are weekly columns discussing technique and offering writing exercises. One winner is chosen every month to appear online, and at the end of the year all 12 winners will be invited to a grand lunch in London with bigwigs from the paper and a top agent and publisher. Sounds exciting. Obviously, this will favour UK writers more - there's no mention of covering international airfares. Then one overall winner will be chosen, presumably over some tasteful canapes, to receive £500 and publication in the Telegraph.
Sound like something you'd be interested in? Anyone know of any other good short story-based initiatives, maybe on a more international basis? And what's your view on where the short story is at in the business right now?