Writing Short Stories vs. Writing a Novel
Many new writers forego writing short stories in the hope of accomplishing the lofty and admirable goal of publishing a novel instead. However, there are many challenges in doing so. Writing a novel takes a lot of time, organization, and creativity, not to mention motivation and energy. Most novels range anywhere from 55,000 to 300,000 words. That’s a big commitment, even if a new writer focuses on the low end of that range.
Additionally, getting a novel published is difficult. Stories of rejections from traditional publishers abound on social media. You will also find a lot of information online about how much it costs to self-publish a novel. (Hint: It will cost you thousands of dollars.) There is also a lot of work involved, even if you’re hiring other people.
Consequently, it’s frustrating for writers to make a name for themselves and to build a readership when the first hurdle is so high. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider, if you will, writing and publishing short stories.
Writing Short Stories: Risk vs. Reward
The risks involved in writing and publishing a short story are much lower than it is for a novel. Since short stories range only between 1,500 and 30,000 words, the time and energy a writer spends on them is much less. Things can go wrong with a short story, just like they can with a novel. However, it’s much easier to drop a few thousand words into the recycle bin than it is to give up on a novel you’ve been working on for months (or years).
Conversely, writing short stories can give you quick satisfaction. It allows writers to complete a project quickly and see results sooner than a longer writing project will. This can be a great way to boost your confidence and motivation for eventually tackling something as long as a novel.
Writing short stories also allows you to experiment with different genres without committing to a full-length novel. This can help you find your preferences and writing style and what works best for you. With fewer constraints on length and structure, you can remain creative and flexible as you experiment with different forms of storytelling and explore new ideas.
Writing Short Stories: Build Essential Skills Faster
Writing short stories on a regular basis is a great way to develop your writing skills. The more you write, the better you get. Short stories require writers to use every word carefully and convey meaning with limited space. Writing them regularly can improve your writing skills and help you develop a strong, concise writing style.
Writing short stories allows you to focus on the basics of storytelling. This includes things such as plot, character development, and setting. It is also a great way to experiment with different styles, characters, and themes. It’s much easier to get a grasp on these elements on a smaller scale.
Be sure to share your short stories with others and ask for feedback. This can help you identify areas where you can improve and make your writing stronger. Also, reading other short stories can help you learn new techniques and styles. It can also help you identify what works and what doesn’t.
Publishing Short Stories: Build Your Name and a Readership
Many literary magazines and websites are looking for short stories to publish. Submitting short stories and getting them published can lead to exposure for writers and opportunities to network with other writers and publishers.
It helps to have a publication history when approaching agents, editors, or publishers with a novel manuscript. If they see that you’ve published short stories, it will influence their decision on whether they can market your novel successfully. This is especially the case if any of your published stories get positive reviews. Alternatively, already having a readership will help your first self-published novel hit the ground running.