The submission period for the next Fellowship of Fantasy anthology just opened, and I wasn’t going to submit anything. Mostly because I’m in the middle of writing Turrim 3 and I am hoping to have the rough draft finished by the first of June.
However, the theme is “fairy tales.”
And then I had an idea. A somewhat ridiculous idea… for an original fairy tale about a character who just can’t quite catch a break… with lots of humor and hopefully some relatable moments.
“The word limit is 3,000 – 10,ooo words, and I could use a break from Turrim 3, I’ve been working steadily on it for 5 weeks, now, and this won’t take long!”
There are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to writing short stories.
They are short.
That means everything is shorter. Drafting is shorter, editing doesn’t take as long, you can go from idea to polished story in an incredibly short amount of time.
For example: I sat down on Thursday and wrote out the entire story in a single day. It’s the most I’ve written in a single day in a long time, clocking in at just under 5,000 words, but from start to finish, the rough draft was done. I spent Saturday revising and coming up with a second draft.
It still needs some polishing and word-smithing, but while those bits can be time-consuming due to their painstaking nature, it still won’t take me more than a day or two to complete.
And, VOILA! An entire story is complete in a short amount of time.
Because they are short, you can demonstrate your writing style and author’s voice to your audience in a short amount of time. Reading a short story can be a nice way to make readers interested in reading your longer works. This is nice, because one of the down-sides to being an author is that there are not many ways to easily “display” your work to your audience in non-time-consuming ways. A musician can play you an entire song in under 5 minutes (most under 3). An artist can show you an entire painting that will take you 30 seconds to look at and appreciate. But a novelist… ah! There’s the rub. Because even a relatively short novel can take a reader several hours to complete. That’s not an insignificant time commitment. So a short story can be a very helpful tool to overcome this difficulty.
They are short.
With short stories, I am always vividly aware of the fact that I have a lot fewer words with which to explain, describe, and weave. There is less time with which to captivate my reader. This is good, because it teaches economy of words. But it is also bad, because I tend to discover that I spent a lot of time repeating myself in the rough draft, desperate to make sure the reader “gets” what I’m driving at or trying to describe, or the subtle joke (that is now not so subtle because I tossed a neon sign above it).
Another problem with this is that short stories tend to leave the reader with a few questions. And readers rarely like that. Unanswered questions are generally seen as a “bad” thing, by readers and writers alike.
I disagree with this sentiment. A story that leaves you wondering, questioning, imagining… what is wrong with that? (The Giver is a wonderful example of this)
Now, some things need to be answered. You can’t leave the reader with too many unanswered questions, because that can become frustrating for the reader. Of course, you don’t want to leave ALL the ends loose (unless you’re a certain director who seems to have been given carte blanche by the world-wide audience at large when it comes to not answering questions or coming up with dissatisfying answers to questions *coughLOSTcough* *coughRey’sParentscough*)
And those are the pros and cons I can think of off the top of my head. I’m looking forward to sharing this new one with you… it’s very different, and not related to any of my other books/stories… but I hope it will make people laugh.
What about you, dear Reader? Do you enjoy reading short stories? Why or why not? Do you agree with my pros and cons? Why or why not? Can you think of other pros and cons to short stories? If you are an author, do you write short stories? Why or why not?