Happy Friday to all our friends here at WITS! We’re doing some extra special posts this week as an advance thank you for helping us migrate to our new site next week. All will be unveiled on Monday!
Today our pal, Julie Glover, is here. *Jenny jumps up and down* Here’s an example of why she’s one of our favorite peeps. When we told her y’all love nice meaty posts, Julie responded with:
“I hope I delivered. I’m even hoping it’s bacon. All posts should be like bacon.”
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by Julie Glover, @julie_glover
As a novel reader, I always believed I was meant to write full-length books. Yet I find myself entering the self-published market with a collection of short stories instead.
I wrote the first one on a lark—merely a story premise I wanted to get out of my system. But I liked the result so much, I started another. And then I got hooked, eventually completing six young adult paranormal shorts.
6 reasons you might consider writing a short story:
1. Writing short stories hones your skill for writing lean—a skill that will help you craft more effective scenes in a novel.
The limited space of short stories requires the writer to stick to what must be included and leave the rest behind. Mastering storytelling in short form can help you see your novel in a different light.
After working on short stories, I returned to edits on my book and suddenly recognized sections and scenes that didn’t pull their weight. Now that I better understand how to pack punch into a shorter word count, I can transfer that skill to writing longer fiction and create a more power-packed novel.
2. Short stories appeal to the our fast-paced lives.
It’s tempting as authors to expect everyone to be voracious readers like us, toting around thick books or an entire library on our e-reader. But today’s world is fast-paced, and many people simply don’t have time or make time to read a full novel. They might, however, be able to get through a short story and satisfy their urge for fiction.
A short story can be read on the subway or bus to work, while waiting to be seen in a doctor’s office, or in those few minutes to yourself at night before you crash into sleep.
Shorts appeal to our overfull schedules and keep readers reading.
3. Your story idea is great, but not enough for a novel.
Practically speaking, sometimes this is true. You have wonderful characters in mind and a story event worth telling, but it’s not layered enough for a full-length book.
Indie author Kait Nolan‘s most recent publications are her Meet Cute Romances, a series of shorts celebrating the first meeting of a romantic couple. She says:
“Ideally, for a novel, you’d have a full conflict and character arc that brings them together. And that’s great. But sometimes, all you’ve got is the beginning, that moment of promise that gives you a thrill of knowing this is IT, this is the ONE. And in your head you can see it playing out—as relationships often do in real life—with little conflict worth a full dramatic story. That doesn’t make the story of that relationship any less worthy of being told, it just means it needs a shorter format that zeroes in on that moment of spark.”
Not every idea is worthy of 300 pages or so, and sometimes you can tell a great tale in 10, 20, or 30 pages. So don’t toss that fabulous idea! Make it a short story.
4. Shorts help maintain reader interest in between full-length books.
Self-published authors and traditional publishers have discovered how important it is to keep an author’s name active in a fan’s mind. Since it takes a while to write, edit, and publish a book, how can you keep your readers engaged during the wait?
More and more, short fiction fills the gap—with novellas and short stories both teasing and satisfying a loyal fan base. Many successful authors, such as thriller author Lee Child (Jack Reacher) and Kathy Reichs (Bones), have added shorts to their series as a welcome bonus for their readers.
5. Anthologies provide an avenue for gaining new readers.
Collaborating with other authors can put your name in front of potential readers. If another author’s fans buy the anthology, they might give your story a shot and discover you’re their happy cup of tea as well.
However, participate in an anthology because you believe in the product or cause, not merely for exposure. Best-selling urban fantasy author Jaye Wells wrote “The Werewife” for the anthology Carniepunk: “Agreeing to submit was a no-brainer because the other participating authors are good friends and the carnival theme was irresistible. The side benefits of increased exposure was a secondary consideration.”
When choosing to submit a story for an anthology, Wells has this advice as well: “I’ve also learned that it’s often best to write stand-alone short stories because writing a scene or connected story with your other books comes off as an advertisement, which can annoy readers.”
You might pick up a new reader, not with a teaser story for an existing series, but for your unique voice in fiction.
6. Short stories are a powerful storytelling medium.
Remember the short stories you enjoyed? I vividly recall The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, and The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. These fiction greats understood the power of short fiction to hook a reader.
Indeed, the short story market is growing. While shorts never went away, they weren’t commercially viable with printing costs. The ebook revolution has given this powerful medium a resurgence, to the benefit of both writers and readers.
Why write a short story? Even with these six reasons, the ultimate reason is because you have a short story to tell. Many writers do, if they open themselves up to the idea and let their imagination go.
Have you ever written a short story? What do you like about writing short? If not, what keeps you from exploring short fiction? Who is your favorite short story writer?
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Julie Glover is the author of “Color Me Happy,” a young adult romance story in the Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior anthology, and My Sister’s Demon, the first of a series of young adult paranormal shorts. She is also working on a novel and lives with her wonderful husband and two sons in her beloved Lone Star state. (That’s Texas, y’all.)
Find Julie at her website or on Twitter. She loves to tweet.