It is hard to move past a writing rut sometimes or get back into the groove of things. We all know beginning a new novel can be daunting and so, in order to get your engines started before your plunge yourself into another great escapade tiptoe into the writing waters by creating a short story. It can kick your writers block in the butt and sharpen your writing skills to boot.
What Is A Short Story?
It is the same as a novel and writing in the same manner with introduction, middle and conclusion. It demands the same amount of effort in terms of characterisation and plotting, however it is much shorter in length. A short story can be a minimum of 1,000 words and no more than 20,000.
How Can it Help Your Writing?
- Firstly, it can help if you are daunted by the thought of starting a whole new book. This will help you unblock yourself as it does not have to be something totally elaborate or with layers upon layers. It could be a little story you have had in the back of your mind in another genre or idea that you know will probably not constitute one whole book. For instance, I have a short story in mind which came to me back in the early high school days which has never left me, but I know it isn't as long as a novel. I had thought about making it into a novella, but I feel like a short story is better.
- Secondly, it can help dislodge that one plank of wood in the beaver dam preventing the waters from overflowing. Sometimes we need a push to get started and writing a short story will help you gain the confidence to tackle a full length novel. It is something manageable and doesn't have to be something convoluted like the Matrix, you are free to write about whatever you want. It can be utter fluff, but it is your fluff. It is there to give you a push.
- Thirdly, writing a short story aids you in ensuring your storyline is concise and makes sense. Have you ever read a book and by the end of it you still weren't sure if what you thought was going on was what was actually going on? Short stories help you make sure your ideas a poignant as you old have limited words to do so.
- Fourthly, it will help you write clearly. You have surely seen many paragraphs which could have been written in a sentence (such as this one, but I have word vomit- I'm working on it). Giving yourself the word limit forces you to write and include sentences which are relevant to the story. This should translate in your novel writing and will lessen time spent on editing later.
Things to Note
When I say your ideas doesn't need to be complex I mean it from the point of view that short stories need to get to the heart of the concept quickly and this post is about using it as an exercise only. It does not mean that you should forego lots of foreshadowing and suspense just because of the limited words available to you. Do all that, as that is the point. Write the story as if it were a full length novel, but be specific in what you write and how you use your words.
What works well with short stories in particular, is "more show and less tell". This is true in all types of writing, however it is relevant here because by showing you not only cut down words but leave it to the readers imagination to create suspense.
This is such a fantastic style of writing and I suggest everyone write one someday, whether it be as an exercise such as this or seriously with intent to share it with the world.
Short Stories You Should Check Out!
- The Body by Stephen King
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
- Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy
- Man from the South by Roald Dahl
Do you like short stories? I need to rummage through my things and find the ones I wrote years ago. Would you ever consider trying this exercise and would you all be interested in maybe having a group collaboration for a short story?
I hope the writing as going well!