Advantages of Writing Short Stories

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. This post is short and sweet. (Pun intended.) Let’s talk about short stories.

A collection of shorts. (Wait, those are dachshunds.)

There are advantages to writing shorter pieces of fiction. Not only does the writing process take less time, but many readers these days have shorter attention spans. There are some who won’t spend the time it takes to read a full-length novel, but they will spend 45 minutes or an hour for a short story. Even avid readers sometimes prefer to read something that takes less time.

The cost of these books is less than longer works, so that’s a big plus for some. And, if you’re in Kindle Unlimited, readers can “borrow” them. (As they can with full-length books who are enrolled in that program.)

Short stories help build your backlist of publications. It’s also beneficial when an author has to wait too long in between the publication of novels. Authors work hard to build their readership. Going too long between new releases can cause some to lose interest.

The average short story is between 5,000 and 10,000 words. Search ten different sources and you’ll likely get ten different answers, but the general consensus is anything above 10K falls into the novelette or novella category. The minimal word count is usually 1,000 words with flash fiction being 500 words or less.

Short stories can be stand-alone works, or they can be included in a collection of works. Many authors choose the latter option. Collections are often a central theme or genre, but they can be mixed genres, including poetry.

Next time, we’re going to talk about a different kind of collection, anthologies.

What are your feelings about short stories? As a writer, is this something you have considered or done? As a reader, do you enjoy reading short pieces of work?

63 thoughts on “Advantages of Writing Short Stories

  1. I love short stories books Joan. I enjoy reading one in between a longer read. Yes. also cheaper, and also another one too add to the Goodreads challenge that helps add to the count faster too, lol 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love writing short stories, that’s how I started, when I joined a writers’s group and we had to write something each week. I did not really get around to reading short stories till I acquired a Kindle and started buying collections by other Indie Authors.

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  5. Fantastic post, Joan. I love short stories. I enjoy reading them as much as writing them. Some of my all-time favorite stories are of the short sort. Way back in sixth grade (1970s), I developed a love for short stories because of my English teacher. She distributed a short story digest to us each month. This incredible digest usually contained four or five short works. Many of those stories remain vivid in my mind to this day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hurrah for your English teacher. I also developed an enjoyment of short stories years ago. We read some at school and later I enjoyed short stories that were included in some magazines, including Reader’s Digest. My brother used to buy a copy of “The Best American Short Stories” each year. He is also largely responsible for me developing a love of reading.

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  6. I am a fan of “the short tale” or “story” and have been since my younger years when I graduated from comics to short stories and thence to novels. Yet my fascination for them has never waned. They gave me a career as a contributor to magazines and then as editor of others. Since my (almost) retirement, going full circle, I am again contributing to magazines and producing short story collections when not writing novels.
    For me there is something special in a well-told short tale, still with a beginning, middle and end and usually a shocking twist. Once they were written by Poe, Conan Doyle and MR James then by Asimov, London and Moorcock and today By Lindqvist, Brin and Anderson but no matter who is producing them the good tales stand out.

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    • I agree with you. I enjoy a well-written short story. A skilled writer can say a lot with only a few words. I do still enjoy reading full-length novels. Thanks for visiting today!

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  7. Thanks for the explaination i can agree with, Joan! 😉 Wasn’t there a serial publishing way on Amazon? Sorry, i don’t remember the given name, but i only had heard about from Teagan (Geneviene). She had used this for one novel, she published thereover in parts. It would be interesting, if this has any positive benefits for authors and writers. Best wishes, and enjoy your weekend! xx Michael

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  8. I am a HUGE fan of short stories, Joan. I love reading and writing them. When I finished writing the four biographical books, I didn’t really have a direction to go in as far as continuing on writing, and short stories answered that for me in a big way. Now, I’ve published 9 short stories. I think these shorter tales are so popular because of the limited time people have for reading. They can read an entire short story on their lunch break as opposed to a full-length novel that can take up to nine hours to read. Writing them can be challenging, but it forces the author to trim the fat and use only necessary words to move the story along. Thank you for sharing this. Great topic!

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  9. Great post and cute pic, Joan 🙂 I love writing, and reading, short stories. I feel like I can experiment more in the shorter format. There are times when I’m in the mood to read a story in one sitting and not lose sleep doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I enjoy reading and writing short fiction, anywhere from short stories to novellas. Some of my favorite authors write more than one series, so they write something shorter between books to keep the readers’ interest. It keeps me happy:)

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  11. I agree, Joan, people have less free time. I do like writing short stories, as I find myself with less free time. It’s also nice to read a short story and know you reach the end without having to put the book down and come back to finish. I do like to read novels as well.

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  12. I’ve taken to reading short stories and poetry since Covid struck. Sometimes a full-length novel seems like too much to take on. I’m just finishing tweaking something that I’ve been thinking of as a novella but it comes in at about 20,000 words and so I don’t know what it is now. Any ideas? Another great post, Joan.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Great post, Joan. I read a lot of nonfiction in addition to fiction. Stepping back from both, I realize most of the longest reads are nonfiction — health, religion, memoirs, and more. The shorter ones are fiction. I love a great novella or short story and believe it takes exceptional skill to capture and hold the reader’s interest with a limited word count.

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  14. I’ve written a couple of short stories and a novella. I find them more challenging because I can’t dig as deep as I usually do with my characters, but I’ve also found that certain stories don’t need 100 pages to be told. I’ve been working on my WIP novel for years, so being able to publish short stories in the meantime helps me stay relevant.

    As a reader, I used to hate short stories because I love to lose myself in the stories and characters. I’m the reader who wants to read series with over ten books in them. Then again, I rarely have time to read now, so I have found that I enjoy reading a story I can finish in one setting because I don’t have to worry about forgetting what I’ve read during the days when I can’t pick up a book. Great post, Joan! 🙂

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  15. I’ve written many short stories but have yet to compile them into a collection. Sometimes I think short fiction is harder than the long form, as you still need to develop characters and write a compelling plot, but you have a lot fewer words in which to do so. I’ve learned a lot about writing from working on shorts. And you’re right about keeping your name out there between your novels. Also about readers having less time to devote to reading today. Excellent post, Joan.

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  16. In recent years I’ve written short stories and novellas. They have been incredibly useful in helping me hone my writing skills and choose my words with great care. I’m currently in the process of releasing a book of poetry. Getting a full novel done at the moment seems a long way off for me, and going short means I can still publish, just as you say.

    Great post, Joan. Thanks for sharing 💕🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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  18. Short stories may take less time to write (and certainly less time to read), but they require almost as much concept and character development effort on the writer’s part as longer works. The difference is the writer doesn’t live with the characters and concepts as long, so (to me) it feels like there’s less return for the effort needed. A collection of stories set in the same place or featuring the same characters may be a solution.

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  19. HI Joan, thank you for this post which outlines what I also think. Modern readers are overwhelmed by demands on their time and they like short and sharp. I have been writing short stories this year, some of which are in anthologies and some will be in a book I am compiling. For me as a part-time writer, I find that if I am very busy at work, it is easier to write short stories and I get a sense of achievement from them.

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    • I’m working on a collection of shorts as well. Writing short is a challenge (for some writers more than others) but the results can be satisfactory. I do think it’s also a good way for authors to hone their writing skills.

      I also enjoy reading them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Robbie.

      Liked by 3 people

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