Short stories are not as great as novels. No question. Writers who produce great books rarely produce great short stories. The only exceptions to this rule I’ve found are Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, and H.P. Lovecraft. I’m sure there are a few others. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write short stories. Because it’s difficult to write a good one, writing short stories helps you grow as a writer. That’s not the only benefit.
There are many ways short stories can make your novel better. The short stories you write before attempting a novel make you better at writing beginnings and endings. The short stories you write while writing your novel can be used on a short story blog to show samples of your writing and promote your novel. Short stories that are related to your novel have several uses I’ll describe below.
Short Stories as Writing Practice
Read any book or article on how to become a novelist and you will be told to start by writing short stories. The first thing you will notice is that it takes a long time to write just a few thousand words. Writing short stories gives you some time to learn to write faster before attempting a 100,000 word book.
Another advantage of writing short stories is that you will get practice at writing beginnings and endings. A good opening will hook readers into reading more. A good ending will leave them wanting more. The best place to fail on each is in short stories. Master opening hooks and satisfying endings with short stories and you’ve done a lot for your future manuscript writing efforts.
There are other skills you could use practice with too. Writing dialog, description, and narrative are all different challenges. Find a reader who’s willing to review your writing and tell you what they did and didn’t like. You’ll also want to practice editing. After re-writes, the best way to improve your writing is editing. That means cutting what isn’t necessary. It can mean adding, re-writing, and re-arranging too, but cutting is what will give your stories the biggest boost. The rule is: Cut big, then small.
Short Stories as Fiction Samples
Share your short stories by selling them to magazines or post them on a blog. There are several sites that offer free blogs as long as you don’t advertise anything except your own books. I use wordpress.com. Blogger is also popular.
When you put your work out there where people can read it, some are going to be looking for your books.
I’m back in the writing groove and working on the final revision of Homicidal Tendencies. When I finished the third draft, I had the impression there was a lot of revision to be done and it put me off getting to the final draft. After a break, I’ve reviewed the outline and solved all the remaining problems with very few changes. I’m halfway through the revision after less than two weeks.
When I write these editorials, I prefer not to just talk about my projects. On the other hand, talking about what I’m doing now is talking about what you will be doing when you finish your own novel. What’s coming up now that the manuscript is almost ready?
I’ve previously written about Places to Get Article Ideas. The following list suggests more ways to dream up and research articles.
1. Write about something that pisses you off.
2. Write an anti-article. For example, six ways to gain weight fast. The idea is that readers will use the tips in reverse.
3. Review your article ideas list for ideas you keep passing up and consider the opposite bias. Can’t get going on an article about how to proofread? Write one on when you shouldn’t.
4. Look for ideas when you are nowhere near your keyboard. While driving, shopping, working, or out with friends.
If you can answer a reader’s question in 500 words instead of 1000, you’re doing them and yourself a great favor. Most readers just want to know how to do something or learn something interesting about your blog topic.
That’s one reason to write short articles. There are others. It’s an easy way to start your day with writing because it gives you a feeling of accomplishment right away. Shorter articles also give you practice at cutting needless words and sentences.
There are several ways to write short articles.
Greetings, visitor. If you’re a regular, you may be wondering where the posts have gone. I’m not on a blogging break. I’m writing the third revision of my novel and the last 18 chapters needed to be written from scratch.
The smart way to write the first draft of a chapter is quick and sloppy. It can be cleaned up in the second revision. These chapters can’t have a second revision. The only remaining revision for my novel is the final. Since I’m now down to the last four chapters, I’m abandoning the hard way of writing and doing them right. By writing a quick first draft of the last four chapters followed by giving them a second revision, I will get them done by the weekend. Then, I can post a novel report and it’s back to posting three times a week.
I’ve always had some trouble switching between writing non-fiction blog articles and long fiction. My solution has been to do one or the other. I can write an article or more every day when I’m not working on a novel. In March, I wrote 56 articles. August will be another article writing month and blog posting will be back on schedule.
It wasn’t just my focus on writing my novel that killed my blog posting. It was the Alexa ranking. Even though I was still posting three articles a week, the ranking went downhill. I spent some time worrying about what was going on there. My visitors didn’t drop. My posting hadn’t dropped. The links in to my site hadn’t dropped. A search for articles on how Alexa ranks websites didn’t help. All that fuss and worry distracted me from working on my novel. I took the easy way out and ignored Writer on Fire. I stopped posting and let the Alexa ranking slide. I’m working on becoming a novelist, not a blogger.
I track the Alexa ranking so I can follow my site’s history. How am I doing compared to last week or last month? Maybe I should drop it if the changes don’t tell me anything. Less administration means more writing. Whether I drop it or not, I will be back to posting three times a week starting this weekend.
Article by Ivan Izo.
In university, you are taught to write essays that are well balanced. You need to present both sides of the issue without bias. If your paper happens to be biased in the same way as your professor that will be okay. They won’t even notice. I know. I wrote biased papers when I knew the prof’s bias and got high marks.
When you write in the real world, most paid writing requires a bias. Conservative magazines want a conservative slant. Liberal want liberal. Feminist want feminist. Ecological mags need you to be certain of global warming. You get the picture.
Unless you’re guest blogging, you’re not forced to take a side. Well balanced articles may be the result. There are good reasons you may not want to write balanced articles.
The perfect article length is one that answers the question from the headline completely with no unnecessary words. That perfect length article could be 300 words in point form or 1200 words explained in detail. What are internet readers looking for?
Internet readers are looking for answers to questions. Most are not visiting to have a leisurely read. They want to read a quick article and move on. What do the writing forums say about article length?
There are several tasks that must be done if you want to make it as a writer selling ebooks online. I’ll say first that I haven’t started yet. Even if I was selling novels already, I wouldn’t know which part of this worked. I say they must all be done, but I’m ignoring some until I have the first book up for sale. If you think some steps are unnecessary or that I missed one, let me know.
As you’re writing an article, other article ideas will intrude on what you’re trying to write. Don’t let it bother you. Cut them out as soon as they appear and add them to your ideas file. An article should communicate one clear idea for your reader to take away.
Following this rule, it looks like this article is done already. But I have an out.
Since 2010, I’ve written many posts on how to write articles. Here are the best of the bunch.
Eight Article Writing Methods talks about methods for writing one article at a time, creating an article series, and maximizing your productivity on a topic.
How to Keep Generating New Ideas is about re-formulating ideas from others, keeping an ideas file, and how to search out more ideas.
Need More Articles? Write a Book encourages you to outline a book on your topic and then mine the outline for article ideas.
How To Write A List Article is self explanatory.
Quick Bonus Articles – Comment Posts is about turning long comments into blog posts.
Nine Places to Get Article Ideas offers help filling up your writing ideas file.
Speedy Article Writing talks about the six steps for writing an article quickly and then suggests a way to jump start your creative process.
Five Ways to Reboot Your Article Writing suggests some of the standard ways to write articles and a couple of wacky ideas.
Write High Quality Articles Fast discusses many steps that can help you automatically write articles fast.
Fourteen Ways to Create Multiple Articles on a Topic covers different types of articles, their scope, changes that refresh your writing, maximizing your research, and when to split a long article in two.
If you want to find inspiration to write more articles, you can’t go wrong with this series.
Article by Ivan Izo.