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Monday, May 8, 2017

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE SHORT STORIES?


A short story is a love affair; 
a novel is a marriage." 
- Lorrie Moore


In this modern, fast-paced culture ...

An intense love affair is often preferred over an all-consuming marriage.

You would think then that the short story would be more popular than it is ...


Which brings us to May 
Being Short Story Month




Stephen King, at the start of his career, thought of a short story as a quick kiss in the dark from a stranger.

And like with kisses, some short stories are better than others!


In the beginning of his writing struggles, Mr. King thought of his short stories as a series of pinatas he banged on --

not with a stick but with his imagination. 

Sometimes they broke and showered down a few hundred dollars.  Other times they did not.

It was an easier market to sell short stories then.  Now, not so much. 

SO WHY SHOULD WE BANG 
ON THE PINATAS 
OF SHORT STORIES 
IN THIS HARSH MARKET?


1.)  IT HELPS YOU WRITE LEAN

Each scene in your novel should be spare and lean so that the drama stands out like stirring chords in a soundtrack.

The limited space in a short story forces you to keep only what is absolutely needed 

to paint the scene and leave the rest behind.

Like Elmore Leonard advised -- Leave out the boring stuff.


2.) SHORT STORIES APPEAL TO OUR MICROWAVE CULTURE

Many readers feel that they do not have the free time to commit to a whole novel.  

They want entertainment in bite sizes.

Why do you think James Patterson writes mini-chapters?

Short stories can be read in a doctor's office or before you drift off to sleep.


3.) WRITING SHORT STORIES SAVES THOSE NEAT IDEAS THAT ARE NOT UP TO FILLING OUT A NOVEL.

How many times have you come with intriguing ideas 

that you know do not have the essence of an entire novel with its many character arcs?

You have this riveting scene with sizzling dialogue that seems to exist all on its own

 with no future beyond that moment.

A short story is perfect for that idea.


4.) SHORT STORIES PROVIDE THE PERFECT BRIDGES TO MAINTAIN INTEREST IN YOUR NOVEL SERIES 

A book can take anywhere from one to two years to complete.

Publishing short stories with the same characters can keep the interest high in your world or with your prose.


5.)  SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGIES INTRODUCE YOU TO A WHOLE NEW AUDIENCE

Also be careful in submitting your story to anthologies whose cause or company of authors mesh well with your voice and personality.

Getting your "prose voice" out there may well draw you additional fans. 

Do You Write Short Stories?

Do You Read Anthologies of Short Stories?

Why?  Why Not?


26 comments:

  1. The forth one is the reason I wrote my last short story.
    I really should write more. I'm too slow of a writer to spend time on novels.

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    1. Which is why Ray Bradbury at the start of his career wrote so many short stories -- he learned his craft, got his name out there, and did not spend so much time on tales that did not sell.
      :-)

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  2. Thanks for the insightful post! I love King's pinata theory.

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  3. I love reasons 3 and 4. I have lists of ideas with no discernable path beyond the immediate. I've considered short stories for them but have yet to commit. And I love the idea of "serializing" a story between novels. Thanks for this post, Roland! It's very motivational 🙂

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    1. That means a lot coming from you, Jen!

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  4. Now you're talking my language. I LOVE reading and writing shorts. Shorts allow me to write lean and I love that. I didn't know May is short story month.

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    1. Yes, it sneaked up on me, too, Teresa. I especially love the short stories of Roger Zelazny. :-)

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  5. I have often written short stories on my blog. Of course, being a wordy sort of guy, I often end up serializing a "short" story into four or five blog posts!

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    1. I serialized my novel, GHOST OF A CHANCE, on my blog -- 40 posts worth!! Over a longer period of time, of course!

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  6. I occasionally write short stories--haven't in a while as I've been focusing on novels and novellas.

    It is very true that some ideas/plot lines are not capable of filling out more than a short story length work. Nothing wrong with that.

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    1. The magazine market for short stories has all but dried up so anthologies are the only option these days. :-(

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  7. I've always had a hard time with short stories. My ideas just always seem to be too big or too complicated. Don't ask me how I managed a short story for the anthology! Still not quite sure.

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    1. Your short story, Sarah, was stellar. :-)

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  8. While my first love is the novel, I do enjoy a good short story.

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  9. I love all of these key points Roland. Thank you. They also build confidence while writing the lengthy novel :)

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    1. There is a belief among some writers that writing a first chapter that can be read as a short story can help in the marketing of your novel.

      I've done that in my NOT-SO-INNOCENTS and EGYPTIAN historical fantasies. :-)

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  10. Sometimes there isn't enough for a full novel. A short story or novelette length might be better.

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    1. Isn't that true? I learned my craft writing short stories. :-)

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  11. Writing short stories are my love. Selecting and eliminating words is a challenge.

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  12. Love this, Roland! I agree with all of your reasons. Sometimes, a story isn't ready to do more than poke a toe out of our imaginative attics and they need a taste of the spotlight several times before those stories are ready for more ... or before they head back into the attic of our imaginations to hang out with all of the other story ideas that like to hang out in the shadows and moonlight. :)

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    1. Sometimes I wrote a series of short stories that became a novel in exactly that way. :-)

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  13. I completely have the same opinion with you and your modest and rational move toward overall.
    Thanks
    Peace Quarters

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    1. A rational take on life seems the wisest path to take, right?

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