Thursday, December 01, 2011

Discussion: Writing Short Stories

I can't remember if I've discussed short stories before here, so I thought it would be an interesting topic. Most of my fiction reading is novel-length, but I do occasionally read short stories. I try to write them from time to time as well; in fact, I started a new one on Monday for a themed anthology. It's set in the same world as Scattered Seasons, but the country and time period are different.

Short stories seem to require tighter pacing and word count than novels do. I know at one point beginning writers were urged to try short stories before gearing up for a novel, but these days, it seems more common for writer to go straight to novel length. Perhaps this depends on the market for short stories in the writer's genre of choice.

Do you write (or have you written) short stories? If so, were they just for writing practice, or did you send them out? Did you try a different writing technique from what you normally use for a novel?


Jessica Bell said...

I'm not that great at short stories, but I am at vignettes! :)

Sarah McCabe said...

I'd always disliked reading short stories thanks to my high school education (except for Sherlock Holmes, always loved those). But I recently embarked on a quest to read as much of the popular and influential modern fantasy of the last century plus (in order) and that ultimately took me to Robert E. Howard. O.M.G. I only meant to read a couple of Conan the Barbarian stories but I got completely sucked in and had to force myself to stop and keep going to the next author. Now I think I'm in love with those old pulp magazine serial short stories. I want to start writing some of my own to self publish soon.

David P. King said...

I have written some. Not much, but after a couple recent blogfests, I've gained a better appreciation for them. For me, it's much harder, because I like to get involved with my characters. Not much time for that with a limited word count. But, it makes for great practice. You have to come up with a catching beginning and a satisfying ending with about 2K words rather than 90K.

Briane P said...

I used to write nothing BUT short stories. I've got some collected up, both literary and horror. (I'll take this opportunity to plug them; they're awesome and available here:

And on Kindle)

Sorry. That was rude of me to do. Anyway, I like writing, and reading, short stories. I like the challenge of conveying a whole story without filling in all the details. I also find that they work better for horror, for me, at least, because you can get to the stuff you want in a horror story without all the filler.

I kind of think of novels as one of those pictures that is made up of all tinier pictures: the novel is the complete work, but each picture is self-contained and complete in and of itself. And sometimes I just want that smaller picture.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

When I was a teen, I wrote hundreds of short stories. When I picked up writing again (many years later I might add) I graduated to full novels. There is a huge short story market out there for those who want to pursue it.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Jessica, I've never tried a vignette, but they sound like they would be good writing exercises.

Sarah--I like Sherlock Holmes too. (Then again, who doesn't?) Your plan sounds like a lot of fun.

David--Yes, I also find the word count more challenging for short stories. Some people are just meant to write at a certain length, I think.

No worries, Briane. I like your comparison of novels to pictures made up of more pictures.

Diane--Yes, there are lots of markets out there for short stories, at least for F/SF. Not so sure about other genres.

Deborah Walker said...

I adore short stories, reading them and writing them. I've written a couple of hundred. Slowly, slowly I'm trying to work at a longer length. I find them quite different, but I want to be able to do both.

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