We covered short stories during the Story Collection Storybundle back in May of this year, in particular, with Pat Murphy’s beautiful tribute to the power of short stories, published as the introduction to her collection, Women Up To No Good from Untreed Reads. I had a few things to say about short stories, as well.
This isn’t a tribute to short stories as a significant contribution to the culture. This is about why writing short stories is a significant aspect of a writer’s career.
I love reading short stories for a quick fiction fix and an economical way to get to know a writer. And I love writing short stories. Some are easy, a gift from the Muse. Others are difficult, requiring research and multiple revisions.
The benefits of writing short stories for me include:
–Encouraging the flow of ideas. People talk about writer’s block. This is a very real phenomenon, some would say a nightmare. This is another topic altogether, but one of the best ways to break through a block is to take a break from your novel and write some stories.
–A constant reminder to write bold and write tight, which is easy to lose sight of when you’re writing a novel. When you’re writing a novel, you may think you can kick back and let the run-on sentences flow. Don’t do it. Write a story and regain your discipline.
–The opportunity to work frequently with professional copyeditors. I have the deepest respect for copyeditors, with whom I worked every day when I wrote law books. Copyeditors often suggest ways to better express a sentence, catch continuity errors, and correct the finer points of grammar and punctuation, all of which are instructive.
–The promotion of a writer’s work and name recognition. If the best publicity for a writer is the writing itself, then publishing stories launches the writing and the writer’s name to 20,000 or 30,000 diehard fans who love to read fiction so much they subscribe to a magazine.
–The opportunity to appear in exciting themed anthologies. When an editor conceives of an anthology centering around a theme, this too encourages the flow of ideas for a writer, permits a writer to work with editors she may have been unacquainted with, and adds to her body of work.
I’ve been delighted and honored to contribute stories to anthologies like Full Spectrum 5, ed. Jennifer Hershey (Bantam), Universe 2, ed. Robert Silverberg (Bantam), Peter S. Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn (HarperPrism), David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible (HarperPrism), Desire Burn: Women Writing from the Dark Side of Passion, ed. Janet Berliner (Carroll & Graf), and Fantastic Alice, New Stories from Wonderland, ed. Margaret Weis (Ace).
–Potential media options and sales. A high-concept story may sell to the movies. My Omni story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” was only 7,000 words but I earned more movie money from this project than I’d earned from all of my books put together.
Many screenwriters prefer to expand a short project than to expand a long project. City of Bones was a failure as a movie in part because the screenwriters tried to capture every moment of a 485-page terrific book in an hour and a half. It didn’t work. The new TV series is probably a better venue.
So there you have it, my friends, writers and readers. Short stories are important, in more ways the one!
From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
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