What Short Stories Teach Us

What Short Stories Teach Us
May 24, 2016 1 Comment For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

Short stories are a completely different beast than a novel and can be much trickier since you have fewer words to tell your story. But they are also a valuable skill to master and can teach us a lot about writing. Let’s look at some different skills short stories can teach us.

  • Structure- Short stories mimic the rising and falling action of a novel and give you good practice in story structure.
  • Theme- It’s often easier to hone the theme of a short story than a longer work which may have multiple themes.
  • Kill your darlings- You have fewer words to work with in a short story so each word really has to count. This makes killing your darlings (words, phrases, characters you love but aren’t klimkin / Pixabayessential to the plot) even more important and is good practice for developing that skill.
  • Precise character development- You have less space to paint your characters so precisely developing characters in a shorter span of time is a good skill to develop.
  • Concise and effective dialogue- There’s no room for pointless dialogue in a short story. You have to get straight to the point, using dialogue for characterization as well as to convey information.
  • Pacing- Perfect your timing in a much shorter span of time with short stories.
  • Practice unfamiliar styles- Whether this is a genre you don’t usually write or a different POV than you’re comfortable with, short stories allow you to practice the unfamiliar and broaden your horizons as a writer.
  • Extra ideas and characters- You have all those ideas bouncing around in your head so why not use a few to write a short story? Same goes with characters who don’t fit into your novel project.
  • Publishing- Short stories can fast track your way to publishing since you can write them quickly and try to get more published. Publishing a short story is a great way to build your publishing credentials for when that novel is ready.
  • Switch things up- They help you switch up your writing routine and can help combat writer’s block.


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These are just some of the things writing short stories can teach us. How many short stories have you written so far? Do you prefer writing shorts or writing novels? Share your comments below and happy writing!


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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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