Jun 2, 2011

Writer Ramblings: Short Stories

Something that intrigues me is how people are capable of writing short stories. I’ve attempted a few. My current work in progress was intended to be a 30,000 word short story when I first came up with it. Now it's up to 60,000 words and counting, it is no longer possible to shrink it into a short story. This happens to me a lot. I want to write something simple, and I end up adding more depth, plot twists, sub plots and so on until it’s too big to fit in anything but a full 200+ page novel.

I even have this trouble reading short stories written by others. Often times I want to see their stories continue and I start playing adventures and journeys that continue on in my own head. I love doing this just for the practice, but it’s also the reason I am incapable of keeping anything short.

I don’t want to spoil any of the stories, but the books of Short Stories written by Scott Niven are perfect examples. They are filled with content, and yet they are short, and when they end, you pretty much know how it’s going to go from there. I can see why he stopped it and left the rest to the reader’s imagination. Well, my imagination is a hungry beast, and it gobbles up the story and tries to continue the journey. The one that really stood out to my mind was the one about the man on the air ship. After it was over, I imagined him finding what he searched for, and living out his days and all the adventure he experienced. I don’t want to say more, because I would hate to ruin the ending.

Lindsay Buroker also wrote some short stories about goblins, and after nearly every story, I was wanting more, more adventures, and I often wondered what happened to the boy they met in the first story, wanting him to make another appearance and they would all go off together and become heroes together.

In a way, I’m jealous. I wish I could write stories much shorter than I do, but then I guess everyone has their style.

Keep up the great work short story writers, and maybe someday you’ll return to those stories and continue them, if for no other reason than to pacify my curiosity, and ease my tireless imagination.

Ok, back to work for me, I have a novel to finish.

And a shameless plug to some books of short stories that I've enjoyed recently.
Twilight Candleflies  by Scott Niven
Sunset Lavaflies  by Scott Niven
Midnight Fireflies  by Scott Niven
The Goblin Brothers Adventures  by Lindsay Buroker

None of the authors were notified or asked for permission to post about their books. I hope they don't mind.


  1. I'm just the opposite of you. I have an easy time writing short stories, but I have trouble expanding on those ideas into a novel. If you try to limit the number of characters in the story, but keep the plot punchy without too much backstory, it's not too hard to fit everything in less than 7,000 words (at least that's how I feel).

  2. I think that's the trick Paul. I'm just a glutton when it comes to writing. I've learned to cut the excess, but my stories grow more every time I cut them.

    I do love reading short stories though. Until I got Kindle, I never paid any attention to them, but they are perfect for people always on the go, like myself.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for the praise and for mentioning my books. I'm really glad you enjoyed them. Plus I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing that someone truly liked something I wrote. It was so nerve-wracking the day I released Twilight Candleflies, because that was my first book and I had no feedback. What if everyone hated what I'd written, and what if my book ended up with a 1-star average on Amazon? But that didn't happen, fortunately, and now I'm plugging away at my first novel.

    Speaking of novels, I know you said you were somewhat jealous of people who could write short stories. I'm the other way around, and sometimes feel jealous of the people who are able to write long pieces of fiction so effortlessly. :)

    Anyway, thanks again for the mention. I'm looking forward to reading The Devil Dog in the (hopefully) near future!


  4. I've only written one short story (well, two, but that first one took place between the chapters of one of my books, so I don't think that counts), and it was definitely a challenge. Not even to speak of word count or the depth of the story, but as I started writing it, I realized that the story called for present tense, which I'd never attempted. Needless to say, I edited it about six times (it really wasn't that long, either). I, too, give it up to those who can write short stories, and do it well. My short story process was nothing short of daunting. Though I was up for the task once, it might be a while before I try again.

    Great post.

  5. I almost forgot that I did write a short story, a few years ago, about a guy committing suicide. It was a dark time, and I'm not suicidal by any means, but I explored the thought and what would go through someone's mind if they wanted it and then did it. Quite an emotional piece, and I enjoyed writing it, but I couldn't write it well enough then to make it readable for anyone else. I might have to drag it out and try to keep myself from adding anything more to it, other than some quick edits. I don’t think I’ll attempt to publish it though. But it could make a good series of blogs one week. I believe it was around 5,000 words. That’s a plan for another day.

  6. Aww, thanks for the plug. :)

    I tend to prefer novel-length fiction myself, and the only time I write short stories is when they're using characters from my novels (yes, I need to get my butt and gear and edit the first Goblin Brothers novel so I can get that out there!).

    If I make up new characters for the sake of some story I have an idea about, I don't usually finish it. I have to already enjoy spending time with the heroes. :)

  7. Awesome, I'm looking forward to a full length novel of the Goblin Brothers. That's a great idea too. I might have to see if I can do something like that after I get a few books out.

  8. Man, I want to write short stories too! I had all these ideas for "prequels" to my urban fantasy trilogy, and then I realized I have no idea how to write something so short. I'm like you. I write 110K word monstrosities. I'm just warming up at 30K. :-)

    I will try my hand after I get through with revisions on book 2. Or maybe when I finish book 3 - that way I'll know how it all ends. :-)

    Fist bumps to wordy writers, dude! *kapow*

  9. I talk WAY too much so it's safe to say I write WAY to much too. My current WIP is too big and I know it. I need to par it down. I haven't tried my hand at writing short stories, but I'm not sure if I could. I find the idea fascinating though.

    Maybe someday I'll give it a try.

  10. I have the same issues with talking, and if you have seen me on Twitter, when I'm on, I have a tendency to jump into several conversations. I don't blame anyone for the unfollowing that follows my massive waves of Tweets. Anyway, I talk a ton, and I tend to ramble...

    Ok, back on topic, I think more people should try short stories. I've been really thinking about some ideas and what Lindsay said about how she uses characters from her novels, I think that's a great idea. Little stand alone side adventures or maybe even prequels would not only be great to add more depth to a character, but could draw people to buy the novel the character is in. This is something I've never considered with all my novel outlines I've written up over the years. Now when I need a break from a full novel, I'll take a crack at writing a short story. At worst, I just wasted a little time before going back to what I'm made for. Novels.