What Is a Pop Short Story?


A Summary for Potential Contributors to


Think of an early Beatles song. A pop story is tight, well-structured, and basic, with impact. Plot-driven or character-driven. Make it strong and keep it simple. A pop story is NOT pretentiously literary. It's written not for a writing professor, but for the reader-- any reader. This means no "well-layered" or "well-detailed" prose to hinder the connection between narrative and reader. Remember, you're telling a story. The story is all. This doesn't mean you can't at the same time evoke time and place. Read the work of George Simenon and see how he does it. A few daubs of paint will bring from readers their own memories of images, smells, and tastes. There are many styles of literary pop. F. Scott Fitxgerald was the ultimate pop writer. His style seems minimalist compared to the overwrought literary works of today. Fitzgerald was the greatest stylist of them all. Dumas was pure pop, but he wrote novels. Edgar Allan Poe, R.L. Stevenson, Jack London, and O. Henry wrote different kinds of short pop fiction. All were very good. One-hit wonders like "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Lady or the Tiger?" were pure pop. In short, send your "serious" writing elsewhere. See if you have the imagination and the discipline to do great pop, which is what I'm after. (A writer with talent should be able to write both.) Provide works of surprise and wonder and we'll recapture an audience.