Friday, September 10, 2010

Will Short Mystery Fiction Survive?

It might seem a little odd to be talking about short stories when I have a new novel out, but the short story was my first love. Short, short short, flash, and micro fiction stories are all wonderful.  I am a faithful reader of FlashShot, and Story of the Day. They are fun stories to find in my inbox each morning, but are not usually mysteries. Great short mysteries are getting more rare each year, and I mourn the loss of each venue that closes.

Closures are more common than any mystery lover can keep up with. I often click on one of my bookmarked links and find it broken. Some of the short story's survival is tied to the success of Amazon and Apple where authors post their stories for readers to find and purchase.

There are still free downloads, and some great sites for reading short mystery. I  have spent hours cruising the online short fiction sites, sampling what's offered, and bookmarking my favorite places. Who can resist dropping by MysteryNet or looking around for free down-loadable stories on Amazon?   Unfortunately, the free stories are not going to save the form. Quality writing takes support. Many of the best sites for short story writers don't have enough support to survive if they pay their authors.

The periodicals are in bad shape. Spinetingler appears to be the latest victim of the shrinking number of venues for short stories. Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen and The Strand are still hanging on, but without reader support these too will fade into history. 

Yes, I am using that dirty phrase "reader support." We readers, lovers of short stories, have the ultimate power to either save the form or let it die. If we subscribe to the journals, purchase anthologies and collections, download shorts from Amazon and Apple, authors will get paid to write short fiction. When authors are being paid for their work, the quality will remain high and the readership will grow. The choice is ours. Do we love short mystery enough to support its survival?

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