Hi SEers! Denise here with a post about something I’ve been enjoying lately, short stories.
When I get an idea in the middle of the night or the shower, I write it down. It can be the first paragraph and then the direction I see it going. Usually, it ends up becoming a book, but not always. Sometimes, I have a short story to write.
- a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
How long is a short story?
These word counts can vary. You need to check guidelines for any site or publisher where you submit work.
Novel: 40,000 words and up, but it is more common for novels to be over 50,000
Novella: 20,000-39,999 words
Novelette: 7500-19,999 words
Short story: 1000-7499 words
Flash fiction: 100-1000 words
Micro-fiction: Under 100 words, but could be up to 300 words.
A short story may have a smaller word count than a novel, novella, or novelette. Yet, it still needs great characters, a compelling plot, conflict, a theme weaved in, and where and when it’s set, just like a full-length novel.
In a limited format, short stories are usually told and resolved in a single scene. I like to think of a short story as a TV show where everything is settled in a half hour. There is less time to commit to, and I’ve enjoyed some excellent entertainment.
Compare that to a movie where it requires more time to watch, which is much like a novel. Both are satisfying in their own ways.
Short stories have become immensely popular in our busy society. People like the option of being able to read a complete story in one sitting—instant gratification.
But what does a short story offer a writer?
- It’s less of a commitment and allows other work to continue.
- The story can be an offshoot of a past or current story. It offers a chance to explore a secondary character with a side story. New insight may lead to another book.
- This is my favorite reason, a place to experiment. Try to write in the first person if you only write in the third. Explore a different genre you’ve always wanted to try. Dramatic writer? Try comedy. Fantasy writer? How about trying some historical fiction? A news article piqued your curiosity, but it doesn’t fit into what you’ve written before. Here you can explore that what-if.
- Like writing poetry, a short story writer has to be concise with the word usage. It is a place to say more with less, and a useful skill to incorporate into full-length novels.
- Readers are more willing to buy a short story from a new author instead of committing to a longer read.
Explore the all possibilities that a shorter word count offers. It inspired me to write about Bigfoot after I read a newspaper article about poisoning a lake to kill predatory fish. Watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie prompted me to explore what happens when no one believes you. A plate of bread left in the middle of the night by a stranger produced another short story.
These single ideas were perfect for this word count.
What ideas do you have that haven’t worked out in a novel? Is there a style of writing you’ve always wanted to try? A minor novel character keeps nudging you or something strange happened to you?
Short stories are the perfect avenue to explore those curiosities.