Why I Write Short Stories

There are two main reasons why I write short stories instead of novels (at least at this point in my life). The short answer is writing style and stamina.

When they edit their first draft, most people need to cut out bits that are unrelated to the story. They tend to add lots of description and go off on tangents that don’t really add to plot, character or story. For me, it’s the exact opposite. Generally, my writing style is very minimalist. I don’t have excessive descriptions, I plan ahead so I rarely write something that doesn’t end up in the final draft, and when it’s time to edit I always have to work hard to flesh out the location and any other descriptions that play like a movie inside my head but don’t necessarily land up on the page where someone else can read it.

So the short story format comes very naturally to me. Instead of trying to flesh out something to novel length, I tell the story in the amount of words needed, and no more.

Additionally, while I personally love reading seemingly never-ending series comprised of books thick enough to kill someone if you throw it at them (hello Wheel of Time!), I just can’t seem to sit still and write anything that long. It’s not that I get bored with the story itself, it’s the physical sitting down and writing it. I am the poster child for instant gratification, it seems, and short stories are perfect for this. While the whole process of writing and editing still takes time, it’s a much shorter cycle that gives me many rewarding moments in a faster time frame. That makes me happy.

Which is why I’m currently writing a series of short stories (or in this case novelettes) that would probably have worked very well as one novel, but instead will be serialized into shorter installments. Hopefully this will keep both me and the readers wanting more after each story. And, as fellow writer Nils Ödlund said in his post on writing a novella, I also quite like the idea of writing something you can read in an evening instead of mindlessly watching yet another rerun on TV.

Reading | © Sam Greenhalgh / Flickr

What are your thoughts on short stories? Do you like reading them or do you prefer full-length novels? Do you write short stories?

 

On Self-Publishing My First Short Story

Ever since I was little I’ve dreamed of seeing my name on a book, proudly on display on someone’s bookshelf or in a store. I wanted this dream so much, and to work with books in general, that I even studied for and obtained a bachelors degree in Publishing. But studying and dreaming does not get a book published.

You need to sit down and write. And write well – that’s the hardest part. It’s much easier to read books about how to write than to actually write, I’ve found. But at some point you need to make the decision to commit to your writing. Sit yourself down in a chair, write that horrible first draft, then edit it until it shines, and then let it go.

And, like most people do, I wanted to be traditionally published. I wanted that validation from a professional in the industry who would say: wow, you did a good job here. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the patience for that.

My short story, Spirit Caller, was rejected by two well-regarded online publishers. Now, admittedly, two rejections are nothing. I was ready for and completely expecting to get hundreds of rejections, but then it hit me: why go through that process when the whole publishing industry has changed in the last decade. Why not just jump the gun and self-publish?

And so I did. I had a professional graphic designer design a cover for me (which I love!) and I took the plunge.

So now I’m officially a self-published author.

It’s a little bittersweet, I’ll admit. I won’t get to see my story on a shelf, not in its current format at least. But at least it’s out there and I can say I did it. It’s only a short story and not a whole novel (and I’ll get into that in another post), but I wrote something and I put it out there for the world to see, for better or for worse. It’s incredibly exciting.

 

Teva knows something is wrong in her village. The cold winter months approach and yet no crops have sprouted, nor have the great elk returned to roam the plains. Nothing but dust flows between the banks of the once mighty river Einuhuatl, and all the animals guarding her village have fled. Have the spirits of the earth abandoned them?

Only the Spirit Caller will know.

To save her village, Teva journeys to the forest in search of the woman who can speak to the spirits. Together, they must confront the Eater of Souls, or face the death of everything Teva holds dear…

Available on Kindle Unlimited and for purchase at your Amazon retailer of choice.