Friday, August 19, 2011

Learning your craft through short stories

I write novels. My dream is to see my book in print on a shelf in a bookstore. I know a lot of you want the same thing. A lot of us only have limited time to write and so we focus on our WIPs.

But if you want to write novels, you need to should write short stories too. Part of being a writer is improving on your craft. Short stories are excellent tools for doing that. They teach so many things including plot, flow, characterization, and how to be concise. For even in novels, each word must matter.

I've never been a big fan of short stories. My ideas are always big. It's hard for me to write something short because I want to keep going. I've learned so much about writing and myself as a writer from forcing myself to write short stories. My writing is ten times, no, a hundred times better now than it was ten years ago. Yes, writing novels has helped. I've went to conventions and writing seminars and participated in writer's groups. They've also helped. Writing short stories has helped the most, though.

Another good thing about having short stories published is that you have writing credits to show an editor, agent or publisher when you're querying. I have ten short stories published and four forthcoming. They do take you more seriously when they see that.

I use Ralan to find anthologies and magazines/ezines that are accepting submissions. It's a fantastic and reliable site. A site every writer should have bookmarked.

Go bookmark it right now and have a great weekend!


  1. Writing short stories is so helpful to learn the writing craft. It's one reason why I've delved into writing flash fiction too. It makes you even more concise. Ralan is what I use to find places to submit short stories. I hear Duotrope is good too.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks for the link! I haven't been to Ralan.
    (I'm a new follower, following on Google Reader.)

  3. Not very good at short stories, although I've figured out how to write short novels.

  4. I started writing short stories before I wrote my novels, but never tried to get the short stories published. You do flex slightly different writing muscles than with writing a novel.

    Thanks for the link.

  5. I write a lot of short stories from the POV of my secondary novel characters. It helps me learn not only about writing, but also about those characters.

  6. I never much liked short stories either. But now I wonder if up and coming writers aren't as good at their craft early on because they didn't practice writing and submitting short stories as they built their career, like past generations did. But one of the things I love about the self publishing revolution is that it seems the short story and novella are regaining popularity and I think that's a good thing. I want to try my hand at producing short stories along with novels.

  7. I'm happy to share the link with everyone. Ralan has been a wonderful resource for me as a writer.

    Heidi, I should try that out for my characters. I bet you discover juicy secrets that will help add more dimensions to your novel. I usually play out scenes in my head with characters from my novels that don't get written down.

  8. Sarah, I've never thought about that way, but I think you're right. I do see a lot more novellas and short stories out there than before. I try to read more of them to learn the craft as I read and maybe find a gem or two. You should definitely give it a try.

  9. Hi Christine, your post is so spot on. I was just reading something similar in an agent interview. I think it was Jack Byrne... but it may have been someone else. I too have difficulty writing short stories. However, when I first started writing, that's all I wrote. Now... I have the big ideas too and want to keep going. Thanks for your kind comments at my blog. Doralynn

  10. I love writing short stories, but I don't do it very often. I've recently been reading a lot of anthologies, and it's motivated me to think more about short stories.

    Thanks for the link!

  11. never heard of ralan before thanks for the tip:) short stories are amazing to read when done well.
    nice to meecha. here from amy lunderman's place.

  12. About a month ago I decided to step back from my messy WIP and spend the rest of the summer focusing on short stories (for pretty much all of the craft and business reasons that you mentioned). Thanks for reinforcing that decision with your experiences and for the helpful Ralan link!


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