As if the form were something that existed outside of

14th Street subway (Try To Discover What You Have Done) ©MAIERMOUL
14th Street subway (Try To Discover What You Have Done) ©MAIERMOUL

The only way, I think, to learn to write short stories is to write them, and then try to discover what you have done.

You want to know how you can actually write a good story, and further, how you can tell when you’ve done it; and so you want to know what the form of a short story is, as if the form were something that existed outside of each story, and could be applied or imposed on the material. Of course, the more you write, the more you will realize that the form is organic, that it is something that grows out of the material, that the form of each story is unique.

– Flannery O’Connor, Writing Short Stories, in Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose