Writing a short story can be daunting. But I think every writer should take a crack at it. Here’s why:
Books take a long time to write and polish. A. Long. Flipping. Time. And short stories can be a perfect outlet to channel new, exciting ideas and refresh your creativity while navigating your longer work. About halfway through writing my current manuscript, I wanted to rip my hair out. I’d been writing forever–somewhere along the lines of three hundred and seventy five years—and decided I needed a break. That break resulted in my first short story, FOUR HOUSES. Getting up those few mornings, and knowing I had something fresh to work on, changed my attitude. Suddenly, writing was fun again. And when it was time to return to my MS, I was happy and energetic and the words flowed like dirty martinis.
For me, everything comes back to marketing. Short stories gives you a product to sell…quickly. You can test out your reader penetration and get feedback on different writing styles. Shorts also gives your web audience something to do. Blogs are awesome, but they’re old news. My mom is thinking about starting one—that’s how un-trendy they are (I’m kidding…kind of). Providing free or cheap content for readers offers them a way to interact with you and your work, and helps build your brand loyalty (those who will follow you through you career) long before your book hits the proverbial shelves.
Many writers are overwhelmed by the number of ideas they have for a book. And sometimes, it’s difficult to choose among the options. Which will publishers jump at? More importantly, which will readers buy? Short stories give you a chance to try out different ideas and see which gets the best feedback. If you get enough positive reviews for the short, it may even help sell the book version to pub houses or readers. Writing shorts can help you decide which you want to turn into a book by how much fun you had writing it. What characters jumped out at you? Which story made you sad to step away from? Consider them your ‘little darlings,’ but this time, no one’s asking you to slaughter them. Instead, revive those puppies and watch them flourish.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to check out my short story, FOUR HOUSES, you can read more about it here.