I was introduced to the short story genre in high school and simply fell in love. It's completely different from reading a novel. A novel is a lengthy involvement. Character development and plot must transport you into the author's world as the story gradually unfolds.
Short stories are distinct experience. A good short story writer will make you care about the outcome of the characters even though you may not necessarily know anything about them. It is a complete experience in one sitting; not too unlike reading a poem. You read the short story/poem for itself and not for the hope that it will drag out for 800 pages and then maybe have a sequel.
The short story genre has become a lost art. When newspapers were at their height, a writer could make a name for himself by publishing a short piece of fiction every week. Charles Dickens is a perfect example of this. Since then, the literary world changed. You have to have an agent to even approach a publisher. Magazines and newspapers won't even look at your writing unless you've already written for another magazine or newspaper.
I believe that the literary world is changing again. E-readers and e-books have drastically altered the face of independent publishing. Authors now have the freedom to experiment with novel length. But now the problem is no longer the publishers; it's the readers. People scoff at the short story genre. The stories are just like a book only shorter, right? Wrong.
So I'm starting The Short Story Project. Starting tomorrow (2/14/11), I will be featuring authors that have written short stories. Along with a bio, I asked each author to mention why they like their short story and/or why people should read short stories. The idea behind this project is to raise an awareness of the genre. Short stories are not novels cut short. They are each pieces of standalone fiction.