Why Write Short Stories?

Greetings, SE’ers! Beem Weeks here with you again. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on short stories.

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Why write short stories? The answer is quite simple: short stories offer instant gratification for both writer and reader. A short story can be written in a day or two. It can be read in a matter of minutes. I love the work and research that goes into writing novels, but short stories are probably my favorite form of writing.

I began writing short stories when I first learned to construct a proper sentence—which goes back to about age eight. I’ve written nearly a hundred pieces over the course of my life, though some of those have been lost to time.

Anything can inspire me: An experience, a memory, an overheard comment. Our world is awash in ideas and inspiration—if only we choose to look for them. Often, I’ll be doing some mundane chore, like mowing the lawn, when a glimpse of a scene will enter my thoughts. This is how the idea for Lost Boy came to me. Lost Boy tells the story of an old man bothered over the noise created by the trampoline belonging to a little boy next door. The idea came to me while mowing my lawn. Some children in my former neighborhood have a trampoline, which, at times, can be quite noisy. I added the twist at the end, which led to the old man missing that sound of the squeaking springs once they ceased. I won’t give away that ending, but I am happy to say it is just fiction.

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A short story can cover hours, days, weeks, or years in the lives of the characters. It can also be a single scene, a moment caught in time. The shortest pieces can sometimes say as much as any novel. Here’s a famous quick-fiction piece: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” That simple line opens all sorts of possibilities. I imagine a young couple that never had the chance to dress their new baby. These are words that convey devastating events in individual lives.

I jot down ideas on scraps of paper and post-it notes that are stuck all over my desk. When time allows, I begin working on one of those ideas. Some stories are written in a single afternoon. Others germinate over a few days. With the internet at our fingertips, getting those short stories in front of readers across the world is relatively easy these days.

Writing short stories can provide authors with a productive break from working on that novel. Just have fun with the creativity of the form. Who knows, once you’ve created several shorts, you just might have a collection worthy of publication.

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91 thoughts on “Why Write Short Stories?

  1. Pingback: Why Write Short Stories? — Story Empire | Vermont Folk Troth

  2. Great blog post! I completely agree that short stories offer instant gratification for both writers and readers. It’s a great way to exercise creativity and experiment with different ideas and styles without committing to a full-length novel. I also love the idea of jotting down ideas on scraps of paper and post-it notes – it’s a great way to capture those fleeting moments of inspiration that can come at any time. And with the internet, it’s so easy to share short stories with a global audience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on short stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In some respects, I think short fiction is harder to write than long. You have a lot less space to develop characters, plots, and settings. No word can be wasted. (That’s not to say I advocate rambling off-course in novels. But they do give us a little more room to explore.) A beautifully crafted short story helps writers hone their craft better than novels do, I think. And from the reader’s perspective, they’re a great option for testing a new author or just escaping into another world for a short period of time. Great post, Beem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: This Week at Story Empire – Joan Hall

  5. I heartily recommend writing short tales just as Beem has. Writing short stories, tales, articles, essays or whatever you wish to call them is an important step into learning your trade as a writer. From Sir Walter Scott and Voltaire through Charles Dickens, Poe, and the Science Fiction greats like Asimov, to writers of today such as Stephen King. The short story has been an essential tool.
    Sure, there is the odd great writer that jumped straight in and wrote a successful novel, but they are few. Fewer still can afford to unless they undertake other work. In my case and many others, I know the short story provided the income to write a novel. I (probably- not certain) do not make as much from my novels than I do royalties from old stories.
    So I agree with Beem wholeheartedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post Beem and yes short stories are to be written because of this easy fact that they can be published in minutes , they don’t take a big amount of time but just mere hours or minutes. Also, as a Reader these short stories are easy to read and you will be done perusing in a matter of minutes than hours

    Great question here and great blog. I too also write short blog posts that are easy to read 🔥🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good read. I also find writing short stories helpful for my larger works. Before writing longer stories I break them into pieces of shorter stories and see how I can make sense of them together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I, too, enjoyed this post. I write short stories which often start from a single thought, word, idea, character, …….. I belong to a writer’s group which meets monthly. We share a piece of our work together. I feel most satisfied when I can present a fictional story in entirety to the group. I have tried writing longer novela/novels but I find that more difficult. I recognise that the introduction of characters and scenes needs to be clear and succinct in the short story. Maybe I need to work at broader development if I am writing a longer work.

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  9. I can count on one hand the number of short stories that I remember writing as an adult. I’ve only started enjoying reading short story collections in the last ten years or so. I preferred spending more time with characters and getting to know them better, but I’ve come across short stories that have done incredible jobs with characterization using fewer words. Nice post, Beem!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I do enjoy experimenting with short stories, but strangely, I sometimes find them harder to write than novels. I’ve put one collection of shorts together, and have written a few novellas. They are a nice change of pace, both as writer and reader, to mix things up a bit.

    I loved your example of the trampoline story, Beem!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for chiming in, Mae. I’ve heard from a few writers who say they find short stories harder to write than novels. I find novels easier, though they take much longer to complete. But the shorts are usually quite easy as well–as long as I have that idea all figured out before starting.

      Like

  11. I’m reading this as I’m working on final edits for my short story collection. Wish I could write one in one afternoon. Well, maybe flash fiction. I’m always jotting down ideas.

    I also enjoy reading short stories. Great post, Beem.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I find short stories harder to write than a novel. Some of my short stories I have laboured over for years. It is hard to limit words and convey the idea you want to. I admire those who can whip up a short story in little time. Two authors who I admire for their ability to write powerful short stories are Alice Munroe and Margaret Atwood. They have set the bar very high for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve come to poetry and short stories later in my writing career, and I must say I’m loving the short form. It feeds into my novel writing too and teaches me an economy of words I might not otherwise have appreciated. Great post, Beem. Thanks for sharing 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love how you’re always on the lookout for story ideas, Beem. I don’t write many short stories. In fact, besides flash fiction, I’ve written exactly one. Lol. Short fiction is a great way to work on brevity and for someone like me who has a tendency to overwrite, they’re an excellent opportunity to practice my craft. I do like reading them. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I love all the reasons you’ve listed here for writing short stories, Beem. I remember Lost Boy, and no I won’t give away the ending either. 🙂 I went through a period of time a few years back when I was churning out short stories like crazy. Another thing I loved about it was the chance to explore writing in different genres. As a multi-genre author, this experience was invaluable, and it helped me find my niche. Thank you for sharing this today! I love a good short story!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Excellent post, Beem. I’ve begun writing short stories with the goal of publishing a collection. It’s a new and fun experience for me. Thank you for the encouragement in your post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Short fiction offers a lot of upside, Craig. A simple idea can be a finished story in no time. Now, gather your thoughts and pull your next collection together. I’ll be first in line to grab a copy. I love good short story collections.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve generally gone for full-length novels, but recently I’ve discovered the delights of a collection of short stories that I can fit into the available minutes of my day. I now actively look out for collections by authors I’ve come to appreciate and these mini delights have enriched my life.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Pingback: Why Write Short Stories? | Legends of Windemere

  19. I enjoyed this post and it describes what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been obsessing over my manuscript for years, but had to take a break this autumn. That proved to be useful, because I instantly had a few ideas I turned into short stories. I haven’t written any short stories in decades, but I agree with you, it was a great idea, and I haven’t had that much fun in a long time.

    Clearly, mowing the lawn isn’t a mundane activity at all, or maybe mundane is what we need. We had a ton of snow over the weekend, so I’d better go outside for another mundane activity.

    Liked by 7 people

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