One of the main mantras for writers, whether they’re hopefully, published, or old hats (not literally. Although I would definitely buy a book by an old hat, if just for the experience) is: Write, write, write, write. And then when you feel like your pen can go no further, write some more. So I won’t be going over this rule too much. There it is. You see it. It has been proclaimed.
So what is today going to be devoted to. Well, I’m going to give you (arbitrary number alert) five reasons you should be writing short stories. I don’t care if you’re writing a huge, ten-book, epic fantasy series. I don’t care if you’re just letting your newly finished manuscript settle before you go back for some editing. You should be writing short stories.
Okay that sounds quite draconian. But writing short stories is good for the literary muscles, there’s a host of reasons that short stories can help all of your writing from sprawling epic series to your opening line. I know you’re just aching to see the list, so let’s get to it.
1: YOU GET A BREAK WITHOUT LOSING YOUR EDGE
You’ve been penning your sprawling space opera series for 5 years now. You’re almost at the last chapter and then you’ll be done! Ready to throw it out there for all the publishers and agents to fight over. Maybe you’ve just finished the first draft of your very first book, and you’re super excited to get it out there!
Well it would be a good idea for you to write short stories for a bit. That way you still get to work on your craft (so you’ll just keep getting better) but then you can come back to your big work with a fresh perspective. I’m not saying that you won’t be able to effectively keep working on it, but you’ve heard of being too close to the problem to see the solution? Working on a piece of writing for a long time can be like that. You might not have any problems with your writing, and that’s great! But it would definitely be worth taking a month off to come back fresh to double check. And then if you write short stories you still get to do what you love and it’s still a break! Huzzah!
2: IF YOU CAN’T WAIT TO GET SOMETHING OUT THERE SHORT STORIES ARE THE WAY TO GO
Patience is a virtue, especially in the business of scribbling, re-scribbling and then making once more sweep of edits. But sometimes patience isn’t what you want, or heck even what you need sometimes! It’s nice to have something to actually show for all your hard work, beyond just saying to people “I write.” and getting a look that says ‘suuuure you do.’ Short stories mean that you have something you can show to people, it’ll take a lot less time to get to a professional level (thinking purely from the perspective of how many words you have to shine!). You could also potentially get together with some fellow authors and make an anthology! Of course this will still have all the normal effort of publishing a book but if you just can’t wait until your major project is finished then this can be a good way to have your name on the internet with a product in tow!
3: IF YOU’RE A SECRETIVE SALLY IT’S SOMETHING FOR PEOPLE TO CRITIQUE
If you’re someone who doesn’t like showing people your big work because you’re afraid that they’ll steal your idea, I have two things to say to you. It’s super super super unlikely, and short stories.
It’s going to be much harder for someone to take your idea for a story with a chapter or two that you’ve given them to look at and then for them to take that idea (that they won’t have the whole picture of anyway) and then write that book. I mean, you’re already asking people to look at it, you’re (comparatively) almost done!
But if that’s something you feel that you want to be worried about, then look no further than short stories!
I think that these are all some pretty awesome reasons to give short stories a try! You can get your name out there, get some good feedback on your writing, not only as general prose but also how you tie a story together, and you don’t have to give away anything from your big work (you could even tantalise people by setting the short stories in the same place or be a prequel to your characters big story!).