“An essential read.” Frances Everitt, The Bridport Prize
“A‘How-To’ book that is hard to put down.” Clem Cairns, The Fish Prize
“At last! The definitive guide to writing short stories.” Carole Buchan, The Asham Trust
Second edition, published November 2013
“Short Circuit is a unique and indispensable guide to writing the short story. A collection of 24 specially commissioned essays from well-published short story writers, many of them prize winners in some of the toughest short story competitions in the English language. The writers are also experienced and successful teachers of their craft.
Each essay picks up on one or more craft or process issues and explores them in context, within the creative practice of the writer. Each writer has given of themselves very generously, exploring what it is that helps them produce strong short fiction, looking at their sources of inspiration, revealing more than a little of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. They share favourite writing exercises, and suggest lists of published stories they find inspirational. Much of the guidance can equally be applied to writing longer fiction.
Contributions include five essays from winners of The Bridport Prize. There are interviews with Clare Wigfall – winner of The National Short Story Award – and with Tobias Hill whose short story collection won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. Other prize-winning writers in this book include winners of The Asham Award for New Women Writers, The Fish Histories Prize, The Fish Short Story Prize, The BBC Short Story Prize, The Commonwealth Award, Writers Inc. Writer of the Year, The Willesden Herald Prize, NAWG Millennium Award for Radio Short Story and the Per Contra Prize.”
Praise for ‘Short Circuit’:
The Fish Prize
“Here is a ‘How-To’ book that is hard to put down. if there is anything you still need to know after reading the varied authors here, you probably havem’t read it properly. Read it again. Not that you’d need to, wisdom and insight hop off the pages like light off water.” Clem Cairns
The Frank O’Connor Award
“Once a lover of the short story opens Short Circuit, one quickly realises that it is indespensable… to a degree that has one asking why hasn’t it been done before?” Pat Cotter
The Bridport Prize
“An essential read. Short Circuit is a collection of essays from writers who are passionate (and successfully!) about short fiction. A real gold mine of insights and ideas for aspiring writers and for those seeking a refresher.” Frances Everitt
Bridget Whelan, Lecturer in Creative Writing, Goldsmith’s College.
“This is a generous book, rich in ideas. It’s a practical book, giving a kick start to the imagination with its suggestions for overcoming the tyranny of the blank page, and it’s also a realistic book. Short Circuit updates Chaucer’s advice about life being short and the craft long to learn, without ever losing sight of why it’s worth the effort.
As a teacher of creative writing, I recommend it to students. I believe in the apprenticeship system and this is an excellent manual. As a writer, it reminds me why I write, and why there’s nothing else I would rather do.”
Carole Buchan, The Asham Trust
“At last! The definitive guide to writing short stories, put together by a team of experts who are passionate about this most elusive, maddening, beguiling and ultimately satisfying of art forms. Cleverly constructed – a book which you will want to dip into for years to come. And a book which will do much to raise the status of the short story in contemporary fiction.”
Mike McCormack, Lecturer, MA in Creative Writing, NUI Galway
“As full of inspiration as it is of sound advice. An invaluable tool kit of a book for practitioners and scholars of the short story.”
Gill Lowe, Senior Lecturer, University Campus Suffolk
“This is a rich book – full of insight and interest. ‘Short Circuit’ will be a essential addition to my undergraduate book list – it is written by those who have first hand understanding of the problems, as well as invaluable knowledge of the craft of writing short fiction.”
“…chock full of advice from 24 prize-winning short fiction writers on just about every aspect of the short story. And it’s an ideal textbook for those of us on postgraduate Creative Writing courses who love – and grapple with – this challenging form.:
Read more – http://fionajoseph.com/interview-with-vanessa-gebbie-about-short-circuit-and-short-stories/
A Goodreads Review
“This book has been quite useful to me. I first read it while writing a short story, and I know it played a part in completing the story. Favorite essays include Catherine Smith’s Myth and Magic: Beyond ‘Realism’ in the Short Story because a writer of what I call every-day fantasy needs to present that newly created universe as believable before the laws of that universe diverge from our own in a way the reader can accept.
I’ve gone back to Short Circuit specifically for Clare Wigfall’s ‘I Hear Voices’. She poses basic background questions for building characters, information that does not need to be in a story in any obvious way but will clearly influence the characters’ actions.
Another useful point I found in Short Circuit (although I can’t find which essay) was that unseasoned writers include too much information in the beginning before they start the action. The writer even gave it a number, maybe a third of the way in, we feel we’ve finally built up enough background information that we’re ready to make something happen. So oftentimes, drop the first third, and there you have your real beginning.
I’ve made lots of notes throughout the pages of Short Circuit. I’m going to re-read it for my next project. It’s the kind of book and good writing that will elicit more scribbles on the sidelines. Georgia Choate