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When Less is More: The Beauty and the Brawn of Short Fiction

When Less is More: The Beauty and the Brawn of Short Fiction


Tuesday, May 22

Yan Ji You (Raffles City Changning)

18:00 – 19:30

作家/Writers: Dace Vigante (拉脱维亚/Latvia), Indrek Hargla (爱沙尼亚/Estonia), 滕肖澜/ Teng Xiaolan (中国/China),朱文颖/ Zhu Wenying (中国/China)


Dace Vigante, a Latvian writer, Udrek Hargela, an Estonian writer, Teng Xiaolan and Zhu Wenying, two Chinese writers start a conversation around the topic “Less Is More: the Beauty and Power of Short Stories.”

Dace Vigante said, before becoming a writer, she was a lawyer, which was a respectable job in her country and also brought her confidence. After training, she could write longer official documents. Later, she began to try writing novels and joined a writers’association, which was the true beginning of her writing. When starting writing, she thought that it was easy to write a short story. However, it was also difficult until she really plunged herself into the writing. The first short story was about a person’s growth experience. Dace Vigante focused on describing inner complex emotions and added her growth trace in the story, so she was released in the writing. After reading it, readers also shared their stories and expressed their feelings with Dace Vigante. Their voices inspired her to continue writing. For Estonia was located in Northern Europe, there often appeared the sea and cold weather in her works. She wanders alone in the forest and along the sea, which could be found in her works. She was happy to write her own stories because writing made her feel free. 

Udrek Hargela mentioned that most of his novels were about medieval mysteries and he also wrote crime fictions and science fictions. He thought the shorter length of a short story was, the more powerful the ending must be; due to the space limitation of short stories, choosing words should be especially careful to ensure that each word was accurate, so that the whole design could hit readers’ heart. Of course, crime fictions were not suitable for short stories. The plot of crime fictions was complex to mislead readers and crime writers gradually deviated from the truth during telling the story, so it took long length to complete works. For Udrek Hargela’s work was not busy, he began writing as soon as he had time. When writing science fictions and horror stories, he would learn more about readers’ reaction to horrors and reflect on novels’ influence on readers. Udrek Hargela also read his own works. If it is a comedy, he felt funny; if it is a tragedy, he was moved to tears. Speaking of the creative process, he admitted that the first novel was not so good and the second one was better. He wrote better and better through continuous practice. In the novel that he is writing now,many materials were gotten from the communication with local people. He tried to bring readers into the story and lose themselves.

Zhu Wenying stated that writers wrote about childhood traumas or some horrible unknown experiences at their early works, but not all novels were derived from what writers wanted to express. Childhood, love and death were all the literary motives and writing reasons. She also thought that the short story, just like playing football,needed a quick kick, while a novel needed not to be kicked in. Short stories needed to be restrained; novels contained the charm of mixture of valuable and valueless contents. After writing for 20 years, Zhu Wenying was not likely to judge the nature through appearance, instead, which she would question. She striped away the complexities and left the simple core. Speaking of her experiences, she said she was born in Shanghai and ever lived in Suzhou. For her, without experiences in Shanghai, she could not write her novels. For the figures in her novels were based on the backgrounds of Shanghai and Suzhou, it was very interesting to combine two different cities in the literature.

Teng Xiaolan said, her previous work at the airport made her have much time to write. At that time, she worked two days and had two days off, instead of working from 9 5 pm.every day. Otherwise, she was too exhausted to write. Her novels were mainly about the life of ordinary people in Shanghai. She was more sensitive and deeper than some her peers, for she was native of Shanghai and born in an educated family. She began to write novels after 7 years of short stories. Since 2008, she had written her first novel. She believed that short stories were more emotional. For example, a moving picture on the roadside could be written in the short story, but novels could not. Novels were required to be more logical and concrete. Before writing, you must write an outline. For her, the ultimate goal is not writing, but writing as deeply as possible.