A few years ago I began writing short stories and eventually took the plunge in submitting some of them into competitions. After having little success, I became disheartened, especially after paying entry fees and receiving no feedback. Eventually I gave up my short stories and began wondering if they were becoming a lost art.
Last year, however, I attended a Short Story Workshop and posted on my blog advice on Writing the Short Story. Now I am delighted to see that lately there has been a bit of discussion about the short story form. Due to people’s hectic lifestyles, shorter attention spans and indie publishing, there is renewed interest – May was unofficially short story month.
On her website, Joanna Penn discussed 5 Ways Short Stories Can Boost Your Writing Career, and Anne R Allen had great explanations on why Short is The New Long: 10 Reasons Why Short Stories are Hot.
So for new, unpublished writers, I’ve come up with three reasons why you should try writing the short story:
1. Short stories help you get to the point quickly.
Short stories don’t need a lot of build-up on setting and character development, so you need to get to the action right away. This enables you to help hook your reader in, which is a great help when you want to write longer pieces. Also, getting to the point quicker can assist with writing your resolution – an added bonus if you struggle with endings.
2. Short stories tighten your writing.
With a much shorter word count than the novel, short story writing can help you with the editing process. You need to use fewer words in order to get your message across, so you need to make every word count. Entering competitions is a great way to help reach that all important quota (just because the form is shorter, it doesn’t mean they’re any easier to write).
3. Writing short stories helps build up a body of work.
Short stories are a lot less time consuming. Novels can take months and even years to write – however, depending on the length, the first draft of some short stories can be written within a week, even within a day. You receive quicker feedback from your beta readers, so you have a better understanding on how your writing is progressing. A larger body of work can tell publishers that you are taking your writing seriously.
Feeling inspired by this resurgence, lately I’ve been bringing new life into some of my short stories – how about you?
What are your thoughts on the renewed interest in the short story? Do you write them? Have you ever entered any into competitions? Were you successful? Have you given up on competitions and submitted them to publications instead?
Image by Debbie Johansson.
2 thoughts on “3 Reasons New Writers Should Try Writing Short Stories.”
I’m working on several short stories right now. I never really understood the notion of choosing competitions versus just sending to publishers. I guess maybe it’s the monetary prizes? Most publishers seem to offer quite low rates for short stories, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s like you said. I’m just trying to build a portfolio and practice.
Hi imitationwriter. I agree with you. There was a guy in my writer’s group once who kept submitting all his short stories to competitions without success – he was so frustrated, but kept on going just to win at least once. Sure you need to be in it to win it, but if it’s not working, try something else. I’m now aiming for building up a larger body of work for both the practice and perhaps sending off to smaller publications. Best of luck to you and thanks for your comments. 🙂
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