If you’re a writer, you’re most likely writing for the shear love of it.
You’ve spent countless hours honing your skill and developing your stories.
The drawback to being a writer is the amount of time it takes to write your rough draft, complete your rounds of edits, and then set to work on publishing.
It can take years to complete a worthy story. Many stories never make it to the finish line. As a writer, you are left unfulfilled for horribly long amounts of time. This can be frustrating not to mention emotionally distressing.
The good news is that there is a solution to your troubles. You can take all of those brilliant ideas that invade your mind while you’re trying to focus on your main story, and map them out. You can write short stories and develop those great ideas as side projects.
Why Short Stories
- Today’s readers want shorter reads.
- They satisfy an immediate need for the reader
- They are a quick fix for a frustrated author
- You can offer your short stories in exchange for email subscriptions
- You can promote your upcoming novel with a free copy of your short story
- The more books you have published, the more books you sell
- Your short story will become a part of your body of work
- Short fiction contests can build your bio
- Your network will enjoy seeing that you’re a writer who has new stories to share with them often
How to Begin
Brainstorm: Take the time once a month and do a brainstorming session. Write down all of your story ideas on small pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in a container, fish one out and you have your idea. Or, you can take the story idea that most resonates with you and move on to the next step.
Map out your short story: Get ready to make a list. This is the fun part. Now you get to map out your story and you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas come for something you know will be only 5,000 to 30,000 words. Don’t worry a ton about the logistics, your first draft will be crap anyway. But not to worry, by the time you get to your last round of edits, you’ll have a great short to share with your readers or to sell to an audience that’s eating them up.
Not sure how to set up your map, I’ll show you:
- List the beginning, middle, and end of your story in three acts. Here is your main story idea, a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Write down your idea and think about how you’re going to hook your reader with the beginning. Who is your protagonist, what are they doing, what are they going to be confronted with, how is this going to trip them up.
In the middle everything is a learning experience, this is where your character learns all of their lessons. Leave them nearly defeated.
In the third act your protagonist is ready to really go for their goal. Here is where they will end up, after a few minor successes, facing down their antagonist, win or lose.
- After you’ve decided what your main story arch is, you can move on to the arch of each act. Divide each act into chapters. Typically it’s best to go with the same arch so splitting your acts into three chapters works well. You want to keep the story flowing within your chapters and entice your reader to continue on to the following chapter. So here it’s not so much about a beginning, middle and end. You do, however, want to follow an arch that builds excitement and the need to know more.
- Take each chapter and split it up into three scenes and repeat the above process, writing down the arch of the chapters. Keep the momentum going.
There you go, easy peasy, you have outlined your short story and have a compelling map to guide your writing process.
Ultimately, it pays to write short stories. You can use short story writing to explore different genres that you might not try otherwise. Your shorts can attract an assortment of new people to your network that may not have found you beforehand, this can lead to some really great feedback on your weekly posts. It’s acceptable to jump genres as an author within the short story realm. Writing in several different genres gives you the freedom to sharpen your skills as a writer by diversifying your writing.
I like the idea of trying your voice in different genres, it strengthens your creativity and provides a platform for you to have fun with your writing. I suggest writing at least one short story to see if it’s something that might appeal to you. You might decide you enjoy the process so much that it becomes a part of your regular writing habit.
What are your opinions about short stories, would you ever try writing one?