Some of the greatest writers started out writing short stories—Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain to name just a few. And while short stories may not be as popular today as the novels on the shelves in the front of bookstores, they still serve a purpose. Many in fact. For readers and writers alike.
When I was younger (middle school and high school) I wrote many short stories (that are hidden away, never to see the light of day!), but have since gotten away from the practice. So for the next few weeks (or as long as it takes) I’ve challenged myself to write at least three short stories. My plan is to get a few ideas that have been rolling around in my head onto paper, and while doing so work on improving my creative writing skills, with a specific focus on tighter writing. I’d love for you to join me in this challenge! Just leave a comment below letting me know you’re in or click here to join our private writing group.
3 REASONS TO WRITE SHORT STORIES
1 | Short stories teach you how to write better.
You’ve heard me talk about deliberate practice before—working on a skill over and over again, evaluating and tweaking until you see improvement. Short stories are the perfect form for this because they allow you to write a full story, from beginning to end, in a shorter period of time, allowing you to focus on each part of the story in days or weeks rather than months or years.
2 | Short stories are an ideal place for literary experimentation.
When you want to try a new approach or tackle a new idea, genre, etc. consider the short story. You’ll find out sooner rather than later if it will work for you. You’ll be able to evaluate, tweak, and improve quicker than you will with a novel. And if it doesn’t work out by the time you reach “the end,” you didn’t lose months or years, but rather days or weeks. And most importantly, you’ll have learned something in the process. On the other hand, if it did work out, you always have the option to turn this new idea or approach into a full-length novel.
3 | Short stories help you stay engaged with your readership in between the publication of your novels.
There’s (usually) quite a big time gap between novels—sometimes a year or more. By publishing short stories in between each novel, you’ll keep your (author) name in the forefront of the minds of your readers. Take it a step further and you can even create stories involving the characters in your novels, giving your readers something to tide them over until your next full-length book is released.
Short stories are a very effective way to practice and improve your creative writing skills, get feedback, and stay engaged with your readership between novels. So, if you’ve been thinking about writing a short story, why not start today?