Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part VI: Why, Where, and When

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

We've discussed the what and the how of short fiction. Now it's time for the why, when and where.
Photo by Julien Tromeur

So, why write short fiction?

I'm sorry to say that there isn't much money in short fiction. If you want to make a living as an author, short fiction probably won't pay the bills. There are still lots of good reasons to write short fiction, though.

It's an excellent way to hone your storytelling skills. This is how I learned to write. Short stories give you the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of character, setting, plot, and other story elements in a less overwhelming environment than novel writing.

You can get to THE END more quickly. Many new writers have an easy time starting projects but a much harder time finishing them. Short fiction can give you the opportunity to take a story from beginning to end in much less time than a novel. I personally love the satisfaction of finishing a story, and that comes a lot quicker with a short story. It can help build up your confidence in your ability to finish a longer work.

Short stories can help you get your name out there, get some publishing credits, and start building an audience of readers.

Many authors, including me, are using short fiction as a marketing tool to promote novels. Short stories set in the same world as your novel can add to readers' enjoyment of your world and get the word out about your novels.

Plus, short stories are fun! At least I think they are.

Where can you publish your short fiction?

There are lots of options. Ralan's Webstravaganza and Duotrope are both excellent resources for finding short fiction markets.

Short stories can also be published on a blog or through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. (Personally, I think the best thing about e-books is the resurgence of short fiction.)

You can also enter many short fiction contests, which can be an excellent way to establish yourself as an author.

Last, but not least, when should you write short fiction?

Hey, there's no time like the present! Give yourself a challenge and start a short story today! Who knows where it could lead. My novel, Defenders of the Covenant, started with a short story I wrote ages ago.

Short fiction is fun, versatile and educational. Give it a try!

And just because I love it so much: Announcing the Notes From the Writing Chair Short Story Contest! Watch for the details here tomorrow!


Melanie Goldmund said...

Thanks for the links to Ralan's Webstravaganza and Duotrope -- they both look like excellent resources that I'll be taking advantage of.

And I'm interested to see about this new contest -- I'll certainly be stopping by to-morrow.

Great series, Angie! :-)

David J. West said...

I think I have moved to a lot of shorts because of the idea of getting an idea, a tale out there quickly.
I can do a story idea and be done with it instead of doing a whole novel on this premise or that premise-not that some don't need more space, but for me sometimes a story idea only needs so many words and I'm very satisfied with only granting 3K to this and 10K to that.

Angie said...

Thank you, Melanie. David, you are very good at it, so keep it up!

Shallee said...

One thing I love about writing short fiction is the ability to take an idea and get it out there quick, like you said. Sometimes if an idea is bugging me while I'm writing something else, it's fun to write short fiction with that idea, and then go back to my other project.

Carolyn V said...

I think short stories are a great way to hone your craft. So awesome!