5 Reasons You Should Be Writing Short Stories

When fellow writers ask me how I became a published author in middle-grade fiction, they’re often surprised to hear I didn’t always write for kids. In fact, I cut my teeth as a writer penning short fiction—usually under 2,500 words, and pretty dark stuff. And I think every writer should give short fiction a go. Here’s why:

1. It’s Low-Risk

Do you have any unsold novel manuscripts in a dusty drawer somewhere? I do — about half a dozen of them. Although they were important stepping stones to get where I am today,

F.T. Bradley, author or “Double Vision,” recommends writing short fiction.

they took oodles of time to write. Short stories can be penned in a day. So if you don’t find a home for that story, no big deal. It’s low-risk.

2. You Can Try Something New

That short time commitment has another perk: you can try your hand at a different genre. Feel like writing a little sci-fi, something dark, or romantic? Short fiction allows you to dabble in everything and see where you shine. I tried romance a few times,and realized I’m terrible at it.

3. You Learn Craft

Writing short stories, I learned how to build characters, make dialogue sing, write tight, and use language to its fullest. The short form means every single word counts—just like it should in a novel-length manuscript. But with the lower time commitment, you can hone your craft before committing to a novel.

4. You Learn the Biz

Ready to submit those short stories? There are hundreds of markets out there seeking nearly every kind of short fiction imaginable; you can use sources like Duotrope to find the right one for your story. You’ll learn to write a cover letter, how to properly format your document, how to work with an editor — all skills you’ll need once you’re ready to hit the big time with your novel-length work.

 5. You Get Credit

Got a few acceptances for your short fiction? Now you’re an author — and those publishing credits look great on your cover letter when you’re ready to find an agent for your novel-length work. Those published short stories show that you took the time to learn your craft, so good for you. I had a few dozen credits to pick from for my cover letter; I don’t know if it made a difference, but it certainly didn’t hurt my chances.

One last benefit to writing short fiction: I made lots of friends, and now I have contacts throughout the mystery community (since I wrote crime fiction). That network comes in very handy when one is looking to build an audience as a debut author.

That’s my case for writing short stories. How about you? Have you ever written short fiction?

 

“Double Vision” is F.T. Bradley’s new middle-grade series about Linc Baker and Ben Green. Find out more at http://www.doublevisionbooks.com/

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10 comments for “5 Reasons You Should Be Writing Short Stories

  1. December 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Terrific advice. Looks like I’m heading down the right path. I’m so glad to hear that is how you got your start as well. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sure I’m not the only Wordsmither that can use this advice.

  2. December 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for this great advice, Fleur. I enjoyed reading.

  3. December 4, 2012 at 3:38 am

    All good and unbeatable points, Fleur 🙂

  4. December 4, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Thanks, all! Writing short fiction is fun, so I hope you get a chance to give it a go.

  5. December 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Great article, Fleur! I needed that encouragement to get back into some short fiction.

  6. Becca
    December 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Just the push I needed to get some of these stories out of my head. Thanks, Fleur.

  7. elissa field
    December 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for this, Fleur. I especially like the fact that short fiction can reuse parts from longer works in process. It’s always a great introduction to a writer, to have gotten to read a sampling of an early idea while they were still at work on a novel.

    • December 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      That’s a very good point, Elissa: you can ‘harvest’ longer work from the drawer for short stories.

  8. Sabra Bowers
    December 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Thank you Fleur for sharing with us. I write flash fiction and your article makes me want to expand my stories. Great to read a success story. Best to you!

  9. December 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Best to you too, Sabra!

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