Last week I was disappointed when I learned that May is National Short Story Month. Gee, the month was all but over before I discovered this. We could have spent the whole month talking about a short story, but I missed the opportunity. Maybe next year.
A short story is one category of short-form fiction, generally with a length of 1,000 to 7,000 words. As a person used to writing and editing 1,000-word articles, a 1,000-word short story feels right to me.
Until recently there weren’t many options for writers to publish short stories (or any fiction shorter than a novel, for that matter), but with the advent of e-readers, new opportunities have opened up. With e-readers and self-publishing, the short story has been resuscitated as a viable option for writers.
Short stories can fill many needs for authors:
- Offer a creative outlet
- Supply a way to make some extra cash
- Provide a use for good fiction ideas that aren’t extensive enough to fill a novel-length work
- Flesh out minor characters from a novel, possibly providing backstory that novel fans will devour
- Present content for fans to fill the gap between novel releases
- Fit nicely in a short story anthology
- Be compiled into your own short story collection, something traditional publishers have avoided but is viable when self-publishing.
I primarily write nonfiction, but I dabble in fiction. While I feel confident in my ability to write nonfiction and to discuss writing in general, when it comes to skills unique to fiction, I feel I have so much to learn. Writing short stories is a great place to start. Let me hone my skills on shorter works before diving into longer ones.