A few years ago, I introduced myself on this blog as a writer of novels, and if pushed, flash fiction or poetry. I wrote a few posts about my struggle with the expectation from some writing advice to write short stories.
However, much like the seasons, things change. I’ve had a few short stories published in the past couple of years, and thus my perspective has shifted.
Reviewing the Process
As someone who found novels to be a big, open space, switching to a short story is definitely tricky. Taking that snippet of a story and balancing the need for a little ‘plot’ inside a much bigger world, yet keeping things simple enough to be fulfilling definitely takes skill.
But much like a film differs from a series, there are fun aspects of shorter fiction.
I tend to write short fiction which focuses on a specific theme rather than just starting a story for the sake of writing it. Most of the ideas which arise naturally tend to be saved for novel ideas later, rather than writing a small snippet as it stands. That’s definitely just a personal preference, but I like to have a prompt and specifically outline short fiction.
Thus, most of my experience is with anthologies, where the them is decided and I have a bit of a starting place and word-count aim.
However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be creative within that framework. My current short-work-in-progress involves a mythos taken from one of my novel drafts and set in the same city; almost as a little deleted scene alongside the main story; just with a new character in the foreground.
Using short stories as a “learn about the craft” experience and as time to explore the world of my other projects works well to keep me from stagnating, compared to that pressure to write something to get published with.