Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why You Should Read and Write Short Stories

So much for trying to post on schedule, huh? In my defense, my entire family got hit (with the force of a bus) by an awful virus. I literally stayed in bed and played the Sims 4 for two days (and built a couple gorgeous houses).
Anyway, I'm finally back! Today I want to talk all about something a lot of writers unfortunately seem to hate: short stories! *cue the groans of hopelessness*
I used to love writing short stories. In fact, they're all I used to write. In sixth grade, I had a goal to write a long short story--and it ended up being 20 pages long. I still remember thinking as I wrote it that "I could never write a book! How do you even stretch a plot that long?"
And now I ask myself how the heck I condense a plot to something so short.
That's why I hate short stories--they're too short. I can't fit everything I need to fit in a short space! I can't construct a world with realistic characters and a complex plot in something half the size (give or take) of a regular novel! It's impossible!
But it's not impossible. Hard for some writers, but not impossible. And that's why it's so important to write short stories! And not even just write them--read them, too!


1. Reading them educates you. This semester, I'm taking an awesome lit class that delves into the world of the short story and the novel. My textbook is literally a stack of novels and short stories that I bought for cheap on Amazon. It's awesome! And, I didn't realize how much I love reading short stories until I had to do it for school. I'm still amazed at how authors can weave such complex plots in such a short amount of time! Reading is an amazing way for writers to learn new techniques, styles, and words. Just pick up a classic short story like The Yellow Wallpaper and see for yourself!
2. Writing them challenges you. If you hate writing short stories but you've had to write one anyway, then you know what I'm talking about! Writing a short story can be a really tough challenge, and that's a good thing. Writers thrive off of challenges and tough predicaments. It's how we learn, and it's how we grow.
3. Reading them inspires you. When you sit down and a read a good short story, your writing brain will more than likely come alive with ideas. Granted, that also tends to happen when you read a novel--but short stories can have such surprising twists to them in such a short time! Just read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant for an example. Gosh I loved that one. I read it weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it, and when I finished it I asked myself, "How can I write an ending like that?" I was inspired to try to write my own short story with a twist ending, and I did!
4. Writing them helps you. I always say you can never practice writing too much--and I mean every word. Writing is one of those crafts that you can never stop getting better at. And since a lot of writers struggle with the short story, it's a great way to practice! You'll learn pacing skills, character development skills, plotting skills--all kinds of stuff!

Last month, I briefly mentioned a short story project my friend is hosting on her blog. Well, if you're looking for a way to practice your short story writing skills, The Plot Project is perfect for you! Even though January is over, you can still jump in and take the challenge! This month's story theme is romance.
I successfully completed my first short story for January, but I don't plan on posting it anytime soon because it's not exactly ready for eyes. But hey, if I like my romance story this month... maybe I'll post it. We'll see!
Happy writing! :)

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