Michael Swanwick on Writing Short Stories
“The thing about short fiction is that it doesn’t really pay,” [Michael] Swanwick says in Episode 222 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “For the amount of time that I’ve put in on these stories, I probably have not earned back—even with the collection—minimum wage.”
Swanwick believes that short fiction serves as a proving ground for new ideas, and that more of it means more innovation and experimentation. He cites William Gibson’s short story “Burning Chrome,” which served as a test case for Gibson’s classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.
“It’s really a bad idea to write something new at novel length, because you don’t know whether you can do it or not,” Swanwick says. “But you can risk a short story, and if it works in a short story, you know that you can take it to novel length.”