Collecting thoughts…

Published October 6, 2014 by helenlaycock

There’s never really been a pigeon-hole large enough to accommodate me and all my writing baggage. A pigeon loft might be better suited.

*sinks into fuzzy daydream*

~I could compartmentalise it and have a corner for children’s books, another for children’s poetry, one for short stories for adults, one for flash, one for… oh, I seem to have run out of corners. ‘Grown up’ poetry can sit in the middle~

*slaps own cheeks and returns to reality*

But even then I’d need sub-categories. Where does it stop?

So, that bit of introductory waffle brings me back to my point: putting together a short story collection; how should it be done?

Do readers like:

  • a true mix of stories?
  • a theme?
  • to be scared witless all the way through?
  • to laugh until they choke to death?

Many writers stick to one genre, so putting together a collection is easy. I don’t dip my toes into a huge range, but my short stories seem to roughly divide into light-hearted, humorous tales to tingle your taste buds (see Light Bites ) or darker stories where characters – living or dead – live on the periphery of society and their issues are not as simple as deciding whether or not to have another slice of chocolate cake (see Peace and Disquiet ).

I don’t seem to visit anything between – romance, for instance.

It’s a straightforward choice. As I write, I file under ‘Adult’ / ‘Short Stories’ / ‘Serious’ or ‘Humorous’.

It’s very tempting to grab a handful from each category and pop them into a short story collection, but I think readers need to ‘get into the zone’ when they sit down with a collection. They need to be prepared to an extent for what they are about to encounter. Having to adjust from funny to heart-wrenching in a matter of minutes can take its toll on the emotions.

And so it is that I have recently channelled all my energy into my latest collection, ‘Minor Discord’, which takes the reader to a variety of dark places through a range of characters and settings and does, incidentally, contain a soupcon of black humour. It’s quite a large collection with about forty entries, and I have included, too, pieces of flash fiction which have been written in the same vein. Some of these have been written in response to competition requirements, details of which follow those stories which were entered.

Here’s the blurb:

Dare to visit the dark places at the edges of the map, places where you will feel unsettled and from where characters will follow you, whether you want them to, or not.

This collection of stories and flash fiction will take you into the shadows.

 Don’t get left behind…

As yet, this collection is unseen by human eyes (apart from those of my proofreaders). Next, I shall turn my attention to completing another contrasting collection. I have quite a few completed already – and a title in mind.

If you ‘enjoy’ – is that the right word?- Minor Discord, I would be delighted to read a review. If you don’t, keep it to yourself, eh?

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8 comments on “Collecting thoughts…

  • Yes, it’s better to have like with like. You have such a variety of stories, it’s good to have a choice between light and dark. Hope the latest book does well. 🙂

  • I agree with Carol, don’t mix dark stories with funny stories in the same collection. Not only will it present some readers with a story they won’t enjoy, but the collection will also be more difficult to market if it tries to be all things to all people.
    Hope the book does well!

  • My choice would be the first – a good mix. I’m not a fan of horror, but the occasional one is acceptable, and when I read a book of ‘humour’ my sense of the same fades rapidly. not that I coulnt myself as typical 🙂

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