There is just something about short stories that I have always loved. Now that I’m a mom and my pleasure reading time is limited, I appreciate them even more. Short stories are there for me when I only have a few minutes to read and even if I’m running on empty, they never seem too overwhelming.
I think the other reason I love short stories is that I know how hard it is to write them well. With limited space the authors have to keep the action moving, have precisely the right pace and pull us in right from the start.
I just discovered Joyce Carol Oates’ 1966 short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” In just over 4,000 Oates tells a gripping story of Connie, a pretty typical teenager, and her encounter with a bad-boy type who turns out to be someone she did not expect.
Oates said she was inspired to write the story after reading a story in Life magazine of young man who had enticed and killed three girls in Tucson, Arizona, during the early 1960s.
There are all kinds of analysis and study guides for the story online—just do a quick Google search. The story is a great example of fiction writing at its best and is, obviously, worth being studied. But, more than that, I think it is just a great read. So, if you have a few minutes, check it out here.