Maybe it’s just me, but novels seem to receive far more praise than your anthologies and tiny tales. They snatch movie deals, inspire art, and gather massive followings of cult-like fans. They hog limelight.
Because of the success I saw in novel-writing, I figured it was my only option. I was wrong.
Book series deserve appreciation, but the written word takes many forms, one of those being short stories. Short stories are important and needed, and here are some reasons why you should write one.
Short stories have temporary endings.
Books typically have to resolve. Here, it is entirely acceptable to introduce interesting characters, intriguing plots, and thrilling settings, only to leave your readers on a cliff with more questions than answers. Did that monster kill the maiden? Why did he run away? Will the forbidden love ever reignite?
When you have a solid story that grips readers, roping them into your world and holding them captive, it doesn’t matter if you only satisfy their thirst partially. It leaves them wanting more = You establish an audience.
Short stories are less commitment for new readers.
When you are just beginning to build your name, few will commit to reading 50k+ words.
Short stories are great because they’re short. Go figure. And in the day and age when decisions are made by swipes on a screen, brevity is your best bargain.
Writing short stories is a veiled challenge.
They seem easy, taking less time to draft and storyboard. But they are by no means a breeze.
Writing a trilogy or quartet allows you the freedom to unleash characters and countless plot twists, but short stories require self-control. The writer must let out those wild creatures called creativity, but only for a short while before reeling them back into their carefully guarded cages. Each word is meticulously chosen, each scene particularly crafted, because unlike in those shiny spines on bookshelves, no poorly written moment can be overlooked. When the writer is not master of her story, the story takes over, growing like a bad weed.
Note: Some “bad weeds” are in fact wonderful. Amazing novels sprout from untamed wonder. However, when a story is meant to be brief, or at least to begin as so, the writer must gather the reins and hold tightly to them.
Short stories get your name out there.
Because they are short, more people are likely to read them. Curious minds unfamiliar with your work may dart their attentions to your three-page drama or novella-length fairy tale. In addition, it’s much easier to make your work free when it comes in smaller packaging. Everyone loves free.
Note: A price of $0.00 doesn’t minimize the value of your work. It merely makes your manuscript more accessible and enticing. It’s also less of a sacrifice compared to offering a whole book for free.
Short stories are a vacation as opposed to a long-term residency.
Short stories gift writers with the opportunity to dip their toes in the waters, tasting the richness of a new world and new characters, only to dry themselves off before jumping into another story.
In their own way, short stories are freedom. There’s no attachment, no need to concoct a climax that billions of readers have been waiting for. There’s merely you and an open door into a world you create and the ability to close that door whenever you please. Of course, you’ll always have the keys, and impatient characters may come back knocking. But it’s up to you to know what tales need telling.