It’s pretty much every writer’s dream to land a big publishing deal and see your name in print on the cover of a book. (It’s certainly my dream!) But novel-length fiction isn’t the only game out there these days, and there are lots of other avenues for getting exposure for your writing, making a name for yourself, and even pulling in a few bucks. Best of all, writing short fiction can be a great way to reinvigorate your work or get out of a slump, as well as to hone your craft.
Because I’ve made something of a habit of writing short fiction, I’ll be doing a semi-regular series about it here. Today I’ll be focusing on…
Why Write Short Fiction?
Like I said, there are a lot of good reasons. I’ll break them down into three categories:
Business / Promotion:
- Publishing a story in an anthology or even as a single-title piece with a small press is a great way to get your name out there.
- You can list the publishing credit on your query letter as just a little extra something to help propel you out of the slush pile.
- If you’re trying to promote a book, it can help attract new readers. The best part about reading a collection of short stories is getting to discover new authors so you can buy all their books!
- It’s the perfect opportunity to network with the other authors who have work included in the anthology.
- Querying a short story is like a dry run for querying a full-length manuscript. Get used to the format, see what works and what doesn’t. Get your practice in so you’re all the more ready to write a dynamite letter to knock the socks off a potential agent.
- If you deduct your business expenses on your taxes, being able to show proof of even a little income can be super-helpful for supporting your claim that your writing is a business. As you probably know, you’re allowed three years of deducting expenses carte blanche, after which you need to justify your existence. Income goes a long way toward justification.*
- Generally speaking, if you publish a short story, you get a check. It may not be for much, but it’s still money you made. From your writing. How cool is that?
- Let’s face it: writing a novel is hard. You get bogged down, you get blocked. Sometimes, you just need to stop and think things through. Writing something short is a way to take a break and get a fresh perspective without completely walking away.
- Writing short makes you a better writer. You still need to fit in all the basic elements that make a compelling novel: engaging characters, conflict, plot, resolution. You just need to do all of it in a way that’s pared down to the bones. It forces you to look at your process and may even lead you to a breakthrough.
- Have you got an idea you’re playing around with, thinking maybe it could make a great novel? Why not try a variation of it in short story form first? Work some of the kinks out without the pressure of having to invest months or even years in it, and see if it’s got legs to become something more.
Have I sold you? Here’s hoping. Tune in next time for more thoughts on writing short fiction, including determining the scope of your narrative, promoting yourself with your words, and finding publishing outlets for your stories.
*Please consult a tax professional. Bad Girlz may Write, but they do not offer unsolicited tax advice.