Editor's Note: Another Blast from the past. Here's a tidbit I wrote as a response to greek tragedy on September 19th of this year. Reprinted here because it's edging on quality and because I can and because I need a few more entries to make sure this thing actually works.
Analysts often derive pleasure from the examination of complex multi-layer works, while neglecting simpler works. People often overlook simple plots and tales because they aren't as high-brow or of scholarly interest. Simplicity and economy of language and ideas can produce some of the most beautiful and poignant literature around. Favoring multifaceted dramas and stories, has left forms such as simple drama, poetry, and singular threaded short stories in some kind of a second seat. The simpler forms are not only stunning in and of themselves, but they also have the ability to lend an insight into the more complex works that would be otherwise unavailable.
Excessive size fascinates us and has gained undue appreciation in our culture. We consider long novels and plays, among other things, to be magna opus. It's true that the main challenge of novel writing is length; however, length only signifies the time investment. A well written short story can—in theory—serve all of the purposes of a novel. Sometimes the best way to present an idea is in the simplest terms possible. Edgar Allen Poe could have written his famous "The Raven" as a short story, but in the end it wouldn't have been recognizable as "The Raven," and if it bore resemblance I doubt that it would have matched the poem's quality. Likewise, both Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and Emily Dickenson's "I Never saw a Moor—" both express essential ideas that would lose their poignancy if the pieces were any longer.
Beyond being beautiful in their own right, brief pieces that effectively communicate their idea to the reader can improve the possibility for understanding all forms of literature. An author should be able to display all of same literary genius—if not more—in a diminutive piece that he or she is able to show in a magna opus. Short works can quickly provide examples for styles, techniques, and temporal variations in literature in instances that longer works may prove to be unwieldy.
Works that span several hundred pages and share an idea, message, and universe with us are stunning, as they should be. Works that span a few hundred or thousand words are almost more impressive than their longer counterparts. What a novelist has to do in three to five hundred pages, a short story writer has to do in a handful of pages. This creates short works that are stunning in their own right, and that have a great deal of influence on the literature.