I cracked the mystery of the short story.

Many of you probably have already realized the value in writing short stories. A few years ago the main purpose was to hopefully get published in a magazine and build up your credentials.

For some reason I never got into it. I was too busy writing my novels.

  • Editing my novels.
  • Researching the industry.
  • Researching agents.
  • Writing my query and synopsis.
  • Starting on my next book.

Deep down somewhere in the back farthest corner of my mind, I knew there was truth to what other authors advised.

With the short story.

When I joined the Indelibles, I learned they were publishing an anthology for Valentine’s Day featuring short stories and excerpts from our books but from the male point of view.

I thought. Wow. Cool. But my book isn’t out yet. I argued with myself. But what a great opportunity.

So I wrote it. I like a challenge.

Benefits of writing short stories.

  • Develop backstory.
  • Develop secondary characters.
  • Practice your craft and style of writing.
  • Practice a new genre.
  • Possibly self publish it.

Even if you decide not to self publish, the richness it might bring to your characters and your world is immeasurable.

More effective than writing out character charts. (For me.)

So have I just been way behind, or what? Do you write short stories? And why?

Shh Mommy’s reading did an absolutely incredible job of presenting the anthology with our pictures and some hilarious random facts, a list of the stories, her top three stories, and her 4 star rating.

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38 Responses to I cracked the mystery of the short story.

  1. Andrea February 10, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    I used to only be able to write short stories, because of the length. But none of them were any good – I think it’s really hard to condense plot and characterization into such a short space, but what a great way to sharpen up your writing skills!

  2. Heather Sunseri February 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I have not cracked the mystery of short stories yet. I’ve attempted a couple of short stories, but they were terrible!

    And like you, I’ve always found myself using any writing time I could find on my novels.

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      I think it’s because before I always tried to make my shorts sound like a story from Highlights. πŸ™‚

      It’s really about taking a moment in a charcter’s life and writing that. It might not get into the kidlit magazines but I never wanted to write those kinds of short stories. There are a ton of free ones for Kindle. It’s been fun to read them.

  3. Elaine February 10, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    I like the challenge of keeping to Flash Fiction length, no room for wasted words in that discipline πŸ˜‰

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Flash fiction would be even shorter, right? That might be fun too.

  4. christine danek February 10, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    I’ve never written a short story, but I hope to try one day.

  5. Kip February 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Congratulations on the publication!!! Fantastic!

    And how funny you just wrote about this! I am working on a short story now myself, something I’ve never tried before, and I love the way working on it is so similar to novel-writing, but sooo much shorter. A month instead of a year!

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      It is nice to write and then be done with something in a month!

  6. mooderino February 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Also lots of websites where you can submit your stories.

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      I’ll have to look around for those. It’s been fun. Also nice to explore future story ideas.

  7. Tina Lee February 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I have just started writing stories myself. Either I now finally have the skills to write a condensed form like that, or I am coming to the party late, like you. But I agree it has been a great way to explore voice and character and those great transformations that have to happen over and over in the novel. I have totally been loving it. Congrats on your short story writing too!

  8. Stina Lindenblatt February 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I’m sure I’ll end up writing one one day, but the truth is I don’t like short stories. I don’t like reading them and I don’t like writing them. Why? Because they’re too short and you don’t get to delve into the complexity of human nature (at least not to the same extent as in a novel). And the story is over before it’s begun, leaving me feeling unsatisfied.

    Of course, none of this stopped me from buying Kate Lauren’s latest book, which is a compilation of short stories based on characters from her series. It was bought at a moment of weakness (like when you go grocery shopping while hungry). πŸ˜‰

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      Okay, that cracked me up. I understand Stina. I do. And so many short stories are like that. They just don’t gain my interest. And I usually don’t like reading a collection of short stories for that reason.

      But, the challenge and fun for me has been to capture a moment. A scene. And still maintain the emotion. Leave the reader with the desire to read more. Maybe if I can practice this, it will enter my novels!

  9. Susan Kaye Quinn February 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I tried writing short stories a couple years ago and decided that novels were my medium. Then, I got asked to write a couple shorts for anthologies and dabbled in some flash. I decided I’m a much better short story writer when I’m writing a spinoff from one of my novels. The character and backstory work is done, I just get to romp around with a snippet of their lives, which is great fun! And, as you say, it can help you deepen the characters you already have on the page!
    Great post!

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      True. Writing spin off with other characters has been fun.

      But now, I have a couple ideas. And before plotting a novel, I want to experiment with a short story. Maybe several and let the characters play out. And then I can decide whether to jump into a novel.

  10. Emma Mills February 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Hmm that is something I will have to think about, but as I’ve currently just self-published my debut novel, I’m trying to promote that AND write the sequel AND do all the other things a mum of 2 little ones has to do & I just don’t know if I would be able to write a short story without going off on a tangent! πŸ™‚

  11. Alex J. Cavanaugh February 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    It’s been years since I wrote a short story.

  12. Matthew MacNish February 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    It’s strange. I write tons of flash fiction, and even have a few of them published, but I’ve never written anything over 1000 words, except a novel. I’m not sure why.

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      My shorts tend to run between 3-5k, which is interesting. I’d have to really try to make it just 1k. Focus even more.

  13. Laura Marcella February 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    I write both short stories and novels. Novels are my first love, but I began to really enjoy the short story during college. I started writing flash fiction stories last year and that’s fun but challenging!

  14. Benoit Lelievre February 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I had an idea about a boxing story, last Spring. I wrote it, found it a home (a good one on top of that) and they just kept coming ever since. Like swarms of little imps invading my mind.

    It’s an issue because they take time, offer instant gratification and get in the way of longer projects. But they taught me (and still teach me) about writing. They taught me amongst things, how to write something that will sell (gauging the market) and that I wasn’t ready yet to write a novel).

    I moved to longer material now, so I only write shorts nowadays if I know they’re going to write themselve. I’m not laboring over them. Wrote a 2000 words one yesterday. Took me two hours.

    • Laura February 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      For me right now, it’s to explore different characters to flesh out for a novel. So even if I don’t publish them, they help me tremendously. And if I do self publish them, it will be to help promote my novel once its released. Win Win. πŸ™‚

      Though, I have one idea now that I’d love to explore through shorts before deciding whether to invest in a novel.

  15. Ansha Kotyk February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Just recently tackled, not only a short story, but coauthoring it. Nothing ever wrote itself so quickly! But now, onto the revisions. πŸ™‚ I’ll probably do more short stories and I think you’re right, Laura, basing it on an existing novel length makes it much easier to create something short.

  16. Lydia K February 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    These are great tips. I am really not good at short stories too, but I’d like to break that barrier someday.

  17. Lydia K February 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    I should reword that–unfamiliar. Because I’m sure your short stories would kick ass. πŸ™‚

  18. Patti Nielson February 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    I’ve tried writing short stories in the past, but found them difficult to write. I like the idea of taking characters from your novel and writing short stories about them as a way to flesh out the character. I may try that.

  19. Elle Strauss February 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    This is the first time I took a character from a novel and spun a short story. I’m not versed in short story writing but from what I hear, it’s gaining new popularity. I might try it again with a character from my next book, just to see what happens πŸ™‚

  20. Marisa February 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Great post!!! I have always loved short stories – reading them…. writing was another story. Mine always blew into something bigger or fizzled before I finished. But recently I’ve been writing short stories again, and LOVING it! πŸ™‚

    But man, they are tough. I don’t know how some writers can whip out a short story a week and STILL work on their manuscripts! *awed*

  21. Carolina Valdez Miller February 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    One of my undergrad majors was creative writing so I wrote a lot of short stories. It was required, but also really helped me as a writer. You get a lot of practice with different kinds of stories and characters and technique. But it’s quite the trick to make the transition to novels. Well, for some. For me it was a natural fit–my stories were always the kind that could’ve easily transformed into novels. I think you’re either a short story writer naturally or a novelist. You can do both, but I think for most, one comes more naturally than the others.

  22. Jennifer Hoffine February 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    “More effective than writing out character charts. (For me.)” This is so true. (For me, too.) Early on, a writer told me that sometimes he let the characters talk on beyond what he needed for the scene so he could get to know them.

  23. Jennifer K. Hale February 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I’ve never written one, but I love the concept of writing from the male point of view. Huh. Something to think about.

  24. Margo Berendsen February 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I write extra scenes for fun to get to know my characters betters, I guess they are sort of like short stories… i know what you mean about them being more helpful than character charts. I just love how the characters take me in unexpected directions.

  25. Kelly Polark February 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I’ve had some short stories published in magazines, because I wanted the publishing clips. But I also found that they are important to stretch and practice your writing.

  26. Kris February 11, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Just working on one right now! And yes, Fun!

    And I just bought In His Eyes for my Nook… πŸ™‚

  27. Jemi Fraser February 11, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    I haven’t tried writing a short story … yet. I have it on the list, but just haven’t got to it. πŸ™‚

  28. Marcia February 11, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    I used to write them. They’re a great discipline. I just concentrate on novels now. The ideas I get also tend to be novel ideas. More than once, I brought a SS to my crit group and they said, “This is chapter 1 of a novel.”

  29. Lynda R Young February 11, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    I write short stories and have for some time now. They are quick to complete–unlike a novel–so I gain more ‘instant’ gratification from them. Often I just want to explore an idea, or a theme. Sometimes the idea I get doesn’t take a whole novel to explore. And yes, it’s great for honing those writing skills.

  30. Leslie Rose February 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I’m very excited to read this anthology. I feared the short story until I read a book called RON CARLSON WRITES A STORY . He takes you moment by moment of the short story writing process. It wiped the phobia right out of my brain.

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