Why write short stories? Discover the magic of short story writing in our guide and learn why you should compose your own.
The short story format is one of the easiest forms of written media to digest. People of all ages enjoy short stories and learn life lessons from the narrative within them. Given the literature’s popularity, it’s no wonder over four in ten US adults read short stories and novels.
I began writing short stories back when I was in elementary school, and I believe that every writer should experience penning short stories to refine their skills. Short stories can bloom into fully formed ideas and novels once you’ve explored them further, sparking creative ideas and empowering you to write more often.
- 1. It Makes for Great Novel-writing Practice
- 2. You’re Free to Take More Risks With a Short Story
- 3. You Can Transform Your Story Into Media Adaptations
- 4. You’ll Be Able To Market Yourself To Readers
- 5. You Can Build Your Author Profile
- 6. It Allows You To Rekindle Your Motivation for Writing
- 7. It’s Easier, Faster, and Less Stressful To Write Short Stories
1. It Makes for Great Novel-writing Practice
Many writers dream of publishing their books to share with the public. However, if you’re not comfortable with writing a full-blown novel just yet, test the waters with a short story first. Creating a short story will help flesh out your thoughts and pinpoint what’s relevant or not. It’s a good method of cultivating focus, skills, and patience for writing a novel.
A short story is generally in the 5,000 to 10,000-word count range. Flash fiction is also a short story, and you only need 500 words at most to make one. Compared to novels with a minimum word count of 10,000 or a novelette of 7,000, short stories are easier to handle. It will also aid you in only choosing the key concepts and scenes to avoid confusing the audience.
Take notes from writers like Neil Gaiman, who worked on “Coraline.” The critically acclaimed and award-winning author uses short stories to practice writing novels. He likened novels to marathons and short stories to daily runs. But, of course, you can’t compete in a marathon without training, so you must at least do daily runs to build up stamina and endurance, just like in writing, where you need to develop your mastery and artistry first.
You can also reconstruct ideas, scenarios, or characters you’ve already written in your short stories and feature them in your future novel. After all, there isn’t any rule keeping you from reusing a character or idea you enjoy writing.
2. You’re Free to Take More Risks With a Short Story
Unlike novels, the stakes in short stories are much lower. As a writer, you don’t need to put as much time, effort, or research into a short story as you will in a novel. In a short story, you won’t have to show every facet of a character’s life or personality. You also don’t need to dive into the specifics of the world or universe you used as the tale’s environment.
These low stakes mean you have more freedom to experiment, try new things, and not be questioned by critics. The rules of a book genre guide authors on what works with most readers; although these rules make for a “popular, best-selling” book, it also removes uniqueness. For example, romance books predominantly use a lead female’s point of view. If you plan to break these rules, you try this out in a short story.
3. You Can Transform Your Story Into Media Adaptations
Every year, 700,000 to 1 million new book titles come out; most of these are converted into plays, video games, comic books, movies, or TV adaptations. Some famous examples include:
- The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
- I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
- In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
If you want to create a movie, consider writing a short story script first. The same applies to other media you may want to create. It’s better to have a narrative you can follow, focus on, and later expand upon.
As a short story writer, you open yourself to opportunities beyond publishing. Your short stories can inspire a filmmaker or producer. It’s all thanks to a short story’s simplicity and creative freedom.
4. You’ll Be Able To Market Yourself To Readers
In marketing, brands provide free samples or trials to attract clients and gain more sales later. This type of marketing can get these businesses as high as a 90% conversion rate. You can also treat your short stories as a writer like free samples.
Readers who enjoy your writing style will eventually find you through these stories. Over time, they’ll yearn for more, leading them to buy your novels, book series, and more. Fans can even reach out to you for personalized commissions. When you get a reputation, you’ll be able to set higher prices for your work.
The same applies to publishers, agents, and reviewers. You can give them your stories instead of offering a book. The more short stories you have, the more you can add to your resume and increase your experience and available examples to demonstrate your abilities.
5. You Can Build Your Author Profile
If you begin writing short stories, you can build your author profile and become known in the writing world. Once published, short stories can increase your visibility and grows your online portfolio.
If your readers love your stories, they can nominate them for a prize. Your published short stories will be eligible for yearly honors like the Mystery and Thriller Awards, and other readers can vote for your stories. A nomination is a huge success when building your reputation as a writer.
6. It Allows You To Rekindle Your Motivation for Writing
Every writer will have to deal with lost motivation or writer’s block from time to time. Worse, some go through a writer’s burnout. Writers may feel exhausted and directionless when they put all of their attention on their bigger and longer writing projects. A writer’s burnout can have the following signs:
- Loss of focus in writing tasks
- Fatigue (physical and mental)
- Loss of interest in writing
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to commit to promises
Everyone needs a proper break, whether you’re a student writing a paper or a blogger writing for your online business. As a result, some people will take time off from work or writing.
One approach to revitalizing your passion for writing is to distract yourself with more writing. Move away from your writing work, whether a study or content for your blog, and start creating a short story with fresh ideas and endless possibilities instead.
7. It’s Easier, Faster, and Less Stressful To Write Short Stories
Here’s a simple reason to write short stories: they’re easier to create. A short story won’t need too many plot twists, characters, settings, or conversations. Sometimes, it’s enough to have a protagonist who receives a mysterious object. When you hone in on one idea, you don’t need to add a subplot for every other character.
With short stories, the work becomes easier and faster. You also have more freedom to concentrate on what you want to show. After all, you won’t have to write down any more backstories unless they connect to the short story’s plot. You also won’t need to place a handful of other characters that can confuse the reader.
Short stories suit students who must develop a written literary project. They’re also the best choices for newcomers to the writing world. Novices won’t feel the time pressure and won’t have to push themselves to churn out 80 extra pages of fluff to finish a project. Instead, they can focus on writing short stories to practice.
Do you need to draw out the main points of a book? See these 7 helpful steps in outlining chapters.
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