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Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story. Edited by Vanessa Gebbie (Revised)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  16 reviews
'Short Circuit' is a unique and indispensable guide to writing the short story. A collection of 24 specially commissioned essays from experienced writers and successful teachers of the short form, this new edition has been updated and is an intensely practical, generous book. Each expert discusses their own writing processes, sharing tried and tested writing exercises and ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Salt Publishing (first published October 27th 2009)
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Start your review of Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story. Edited by Vanessa Gebbie (Revised)
MJ Nicholls
Stronger than most "How to Write 101" books. Each contributor is a prize-winning (of course) short story writer, commissioned to write an essay on them old perennials: character, theme, ending, originality, etc.

The essays are surprisingly alike in tone: each writer comes across as a hip school teacher trying not to offer generic advice or too much autobiographical detail, focusing instead on techniques, hints, basic truths, frank opinions.

Exercises and recommended reading lists are a good inclu
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
review later...

Adam Marek's contribution is good: 'I think people who enjoy short stories have a special gland, one that reponds to the unexpected with little bursts of pleasure chemicals.. I'm always suspicious of people who love to read, but who don't like short stories. These people, I think, if they have the gland, have a shrivelled thing. an atrophied little apple core. I pity these people. They are missing out on these inky little orgasms.'

I enjoyed Tania Hershman's piece on flash fiction,
Georgia Choate
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been quite useful to me. I first read it while writing a short story, and I know it played a part in completing the story. Favorite essays include Catherine Smith's Myth and Magic: Beyond 'Realism' in the Short Story because a writer of what I call every-day fantasy needs to present that newly created universe as believable before the laws of that universe diverge from our own in a way the reader can accept.

I've gone back to Short Circuit specifically for Clare Wigfall's 'I Hear Vo
Jun 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
The title of this book suggests it’s a guide to the art of the short story. Let me start by pointing out straight away that it’s not the kind of guide that will teach you how to write short stories, step-by-step. The book is actually a collection of essays by different contributors (edited by Vanessa Gebbie) that explores how other writers approach the various aspects of the form.

I made the mistake of starting to read it like a How To guide, working through every chapter in linear fashion, hopin
Stefan Grieve
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very conversational how-to book on short story writing, with the chapters either being a writer advising the reader, or a writer being interviewed by the editor, this is compiled almost like a short story collection in itself with different writers in contributing to bite-sized chapters.

So it's easy to get into, although important info and tips are spread sporadically within its conversational style, although I noticed a continued insistence of in medias res and the recommendation of Raymond C
Keith Bullock
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to the short story, there's always another angle... and what better way to mull over some new approaches than to read about the winning ways of prize-winning writers? This collection of personal insights into the creative process shared by a number of distinguished writers sets the old brain cells jingling and will have you reaching for your quill!
Over the years I've amassed around ninety short stories and I'm still busy writing more - even had some success, with one of 'em filmed
Robert Day
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A selection of articles about how to write short stories from a wide variety of authors (many if them with Salt Publishing) with a wide range of views. I can't say that I agree with everything that was said - some if it does not accord with my own experience - but just about everything that was said was interesting and fresh. This isn't just you run-of-the-mill how-to, it's something more special.

I have the feeling that I'm going to need to find back into these articles so I'm very glad that I b
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

Hmmmmm...I was expecting pretty big things from this book.

Having recently read 'Writing Short Stories: A Writers' and Artists' Companion' which I thoroughly enjoyed and felt was incredibly helpful and insightful, this book fell short for me.

This time, there are less writerly tips and focus on authors discussing certain sections of writing, for example theme, voice, characterisation, etc. I found most of the sections rather long-winded, containing slim passages which I felt were useful
Elizabeth Smith
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually read 'How to'books such as this, but in this instance I am glad I made an exception. This is an excellent guide for any writer interested in how to write and improve their short fiction, written by a range of successful authors on different topics. Most useful was a list from each author of their favourite short stories. ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of essays by published writers on how to write short stories. Some of them offer really useful hints (e.g. about show not tell, about characters, about first sentences) others were not as practical nor as interesting.
Ann Douglas
A practical guide to writing or appreciating short fiction. Unfortunately, the book contains a lot of typos. (Typos are distracting at the best of times, but they are particularly annoying in a book about writing.)
Dan Coxon
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for all short story writers, old and new. Wonderful nuggets of writerly wisdom.
Irena Pasvinter
This is collection of articles written by different UK authors covering myriad of aspects related to the world of short stories. Filled with down to earth advice and extremely useful.
Kath Olukoya
I have read the first chapter and couldn't see how I could apply it to my writing and so it has been squandering its time in the graveyard of the unread since 2012. ...more
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An invaluable guide for any short story writer, with lots of useful advice from contemporary writers. Highly recommend it!
Sonya Oldwin
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
This is one of the books I see myself coming back to time and time again. Full of great advice and inspiration.
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Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist, short storyist, editor, writing tutor and occasional poet. Her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was selected as a Financial Times Book of the Year and Guardian readers’ book of the year.

She is author of two collections: Words from a Glass Bubble - a collection of mainly prize-winning stories - and Storm Warning (Salt Modern Fiction). She is contributing editor of

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