Due to waiting for feedback on a novel, doing revisions and editing on others, and in general trying to hold off on starting too many big new projects (because I need to also publish them at some point), I’ve written a lot of short stories this year.
In fact, in the last 3 months I’ve written around 30 short stories. They range from as short as 300 words to over 4000 and total somewhere around 30,000 words.
It’s been fun – I’m not going to lie. There’s something “easy” about sitting down to write a short story, instead of trying to tackle a novel. That’s not to say that they are easier to write, by no means, but it’s not as daunting. It’s a simpler task to set oneself, to carve out time in a day to sit down and write some words on a short story.
At the same time, short stories are the devil. They are sly. They trick you. They force you to write your best stuff, and you better do it quick because before you know it your story is over.
This is where short stories can teach you to master your craft.
There’s a couple of overarching things you have to master to create a compelling story. You have to have drive, a conflict, a goal, something that motivates your characters and something that stops them from getting what they want. I’m talking in very broad terms here – and there’s many other things that make up a good story – but without these, you’re going to run into trouble.
It’s the same for short stories. They need the same material, the same building blocks to function properly. And they need it fast.
Playing around with how to do these things in short stories is brilliant fun. In a novel you have time, you have pages and chapters to spend to build on. You don’t in 300 words. Or in 2500 for that matter. You need to put forth your case, present your characters and their wants and needs and troubles and you need to resolve.
I’ve created a lot of weird stuff the last few months. Some stories are brilliant. Some I love. A few need some work, some rewriting to tell the story I intended. And some, well they out right suck.
But they all taught me some valuable things about how to develop my writing. I hope I get to share some of them with you soon.
If you haven’t already tried your hand at shorter writing, I recommend that you do! It’s a strange mix of being incredibly difficult while at the same time being freeing. You might surprise yourself!