My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Short Stories vs. Novels

I’ve been trying to develop a short story for the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. It’s harder than I thought, since I’ve been working almost exclusively on writing a novel for well, at least two or three years now.

I’ve found as a writer that working on a short story and working on a novel exercises two different types of “writing muscles.” I know, that’s pretty obvious. Short stories have to be completed in a certain amount of words (generally under 4 or 5K) while novels are much, much longer.

 It’s become harder for me to switch back to short story mode. In a novel, you have to make the story more complex, while the short story has a limited amount of complexity that has to be resolved in a certain number of pages. I used to write short stories all the time. The stories had to be 750 words or less. I got used to learning how to pace the story and develop it in such a short amount of space.

I have to admit, I’m a bit out of practice 😛

I now know that if I want to be a successful writer, I need to make a habit of writing short stories. Not only will it help me fine tune my writing, but it’s also another way to get myself published and earn some credits before I start sending manuscripts out.  It’ll be challenging, since my mind has been in novel mode for so long, but I’m certain I can do it.

Do you write short stories at all? If not, why? Is there anything holding you back?

Comments on: "Short Stories vs. Novels" (5)

  1. They are different muscles, especially in terms of pacing. I actually love short stories since I started out writing them and only later tried to learn how to write novels. I find it so much easier to layer and enrich the writing in a short story because it’s easy to keep the whole thing from beginning to end in your head.

    Best of luck with your competition.

  2. I attempted to write a short story about six months ago. Like you, I used to write them all the time, but I’m so out of that mode that I found it almost impossible. I really should give it a try again. I definitely need to work that muscle!

  3. I love short stories! I used to mainly work on long stuff, but have found after dedicating most of a year to the short form that they have really helped my novel writing skills as well. Different skills, yes, but the same principles that make a short story good can apply to making a novel good as well. Good luck!

  4. Yeah, I’ve got a short I’m working on now, or I was before my life turned to hell in the proverbial reticule. ;D The story’s flowing well and I can tell where the story needs to shift, end, etc. It’s not done yet by a long shot, but I’m far more confident of it than I ever was of my earlier efforts. I used short stories to learn how to write, so it’s nice to change gears (change of speed, if you’ll pardon the pun). Circumstances hinder me finishing it more than anything else. Good luck with the competition!

  5. […] Short Stories vs. Novels ( […]

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