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'It's harder to write a really good short story'

30 December 2019

‘The thing I like about novels is that they are a more forgiving form. You can make missteps. It's harder to write a really good short story - I'm more aware of the flaws in my short stories. There's pleasure I get being able to spend that much time with people and ideas in novels, but if you write a short story, the magical period of an idea to the excitement of composition and the first draft is short, but deeply pleasurable in a way novels are not...

I teach creative writing and I think it's not like making a soufflé; you can't give anyone the steps to follow. It can't be taught in the way life drawing can. But you can teach people how to notice what the work they admire is doing, and to sit around a table and look at their writing and how to make it achieve what it wants to achieve.'

Elizabeth McCracken, author of Bowlaway, Thunderstruck and four other books of novels, short stories and a memoir, in the Observer.