The Nature of the Short Story, Eric Rosenfield, Wet Asphalt:

Come to think of it, I find it ironic that the essay’s author dismisses early short stories with a comparison to pop songs, when I think pop (and rock) songs offer a pretty good analogy for what a short story should be like. A great song is generally about one thing—one situation, one feeling—which it introduces, then gradually builds to a climax over (usually in a final chorus or bridge), and then fades out. It doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t need to be clever; some of the greatest songs use no more than three chords and are simple and sincere. It doesn’t need to have conflict—many a great song are just elaborate love letters. (Though conflict doesn’t hurt any.) However, it cannot be boring, and that is the true problem with a lot of contemporary short fiction. Nothing’s worse than a pop song that puts you to sleep.

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