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Writing and Publishing

Short Stories Versus Novels

A reader emailed me. He said you recommended starting by writing short stories. Unfortunately, I’m already near finishing my first novel (which took years of planning). I skipped the step of starting with short stories. What should I do?

The main benefit of writing short stories before writing a novel is to identify and learn how to fix problems with your writing style and voice. And every writer has them.

It’s much easier to fix something that occurs a few times in a short story, than dozens or hundreds of times in a novel. And sometimes these problems in novels are so pervasive that they’re not worth fixing. That’s why many novelists abandon their first novel (and often their second and third and . . . ) to start over with a goal to avoid what they did wrong the first time.

Since you’re nearly done with your first draft, you won’t realize the benefits that come from writing short stories. So, given your situation, I encourage you to keep working on your novel.

However, you can realize other benefits by writing short stories, which I’ll cover next month.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

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