Last year, I spoke with a writer who wanted to write fiction, but he felt that he didn’t have the time to write a novel. He was working long hours, and he and his wife had just welcomed a new baby. I suggested that he write short stories. When you don’t have much time to spare, writing short stories is much easier than writing a novel.
In a novel, you need to keep a lot of material in your head. The characters, the plot, character arcs, settings, and much more. With a short story, there’s much less to keep track of. Once you’ve got the basic situation, you can spend ten minutes on the story in your lunch hour, or you can write a complete story in a weekend.
If you get into the habit of writing short stories, you benefit in many ways.
Writing short stories: a wonderful strategy to build a career as a writer of fiction
Let’s look at some of the benefits of writing short stories.
- Writing begets writing. You’ll get more, and better, ideas when you’re writing, rather than just thinking about writing;
- You’ll become confident writing fiction;
- You can make money. However, be aware that you won’t make a huge amount from single stories, and the amount you make depends on your genre;
- You’ll be able to extend some of your stories into complete novels;
- You can collect your stories into bundles, and can sell the bundles as books;
- If you’re already publishing fiction, short stories are a wonderful marketing tool.
Writers have been asking me about how to get started writing short stories for years. Last year I created a class on how to write short fiction.
I’ve also published an ebook, Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories.
Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories
Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories is our new ebook on writing and publishing short fiction.
You may be wondering who the ebook’s for. It’s for anyone who’s interested in writing profitable short stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the ebook, on the story question.
Excerpt: The all-important story QUESTION (you must have it)
The “story question” is also known as the dramatic question. It’s the heart of your story — you must have a story question, in order to create suspense. No suspense, no readers.
Suspense is the reason people read fiction: they want to know — what happens next?
It’s easier to create suspense than you might think. Paradoxically, it can also be harder, because it forces you to make choices.
Your aim should be to answer the story question in your short story. That said, there are occasions where you might not answer the big story question in your story. As a beginning author of fiction, I suggest that you DO answer the story question.
Tip: although there is just one major story question in a short story, in novellas and fiction, there are many ongoing questions. The story question’s thread runs through your longer fiction, and won’t be resolved until the end. You need other questions which are either resolved as the story progresses, or which wind up as their sub-plot winds up.
The story question (no matter how simple) generates suspense… what’s your story about?
Getting back to Molly’s story.
Your story question can be anything you like:
- Will Molly clear her name, and discover the murderer?
- Will Molly discover that she’s about to lose everything, because her partner is selling her business? (And has mortgaged her home?)
- Will Molly’s romance with the lead detective end in happily-ever-after, or heartache?
Decide on it early, and introduce your story question asap — within the first 500 words.
Write short stories which SELL
I wrote Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories to help you to write short stories which sell.
It’s packed with tips you can use, whether you’re a new fiction writer, or are an experienced pro.
Short stories are fun to write. They can help you to build your writing career. And of course… you can write them in your spare time, even if you only have ten minutes a day.
And if you’re wondering about the writer who didn’t have time to write a novel, he’s now well on the way to establishing a fiction writing career. He wrote short stories for a couple of months, then one of his stories took off; he kept writing, and it became a novel.
I asked him where he found the time. He told me that he just did — he worked on the novel when everyone else in the house had gone to bed. At the moment, his novel is being copyedited. He’s still writing short stories, and now wants to write a serial. He’s well on his way to establishing himself as a fiction author.
Updated: January 18, 2017
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