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6 Reasons to Write a Short Story

Priya has been previously shortlisted for the Margaret and Reg Turnill Writing Competition (2020) and the Val Wood Prize (2020).

Short stories give you a flavour of a writer’s style of writing before you delve into his seven book long hardbound series. If you’re a writer, there are several reasons why you should begin with short stories before you write your seven book long hardbound series. Before that, we’ll delve into the basics of what constitutes a short story.

Writing a Short Story is an Art.

Writing a Short Story is an Art.

What is a Short Story?

A short story is defined by its length. Most people agree it should be between 3000-5000 words and should reflect a single mood. There has to be a motive, a goal or a theme without which it merely becomes an anecdote. Usually, it revolves around a single person, the protagonist. Some of the best short stories that I’ve read are by Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, Rabindranath Tagore and Anton Chekov. While short stories are amazing to read, writing them allows you to hone your writing skills. They are like practise sessions before the game.

Why Should you Write a Short Story?

1. Narrations

Stories are generally told through three types of narrations: first-person, second-person and third-person. Second-person narrations are least common. You might find yourself debating between writing the story in the first-person narration, i.e., when you use the word I, and all emotions, thoughts, and guesstimates belong to the protagonist and the third-person narration. Third-person narration is more flexible and really depends on the author. I think you’d need most practice when you’re attempting a longer work in third person. Is the story going to be told through one-person or multiple people? Is it going to be segregated into chapters for each person? Or does everyone dive in with their thoughts at any point? I’ve found the last one to be most difficult. You have to determine the voice of the narrator, i.e. your voice. How intrusive and unintrusive are you going to be? To figure out these things, I’d suggest you write as many short stories employing different narrations to find your best fit.

2. Point-of-Views

Point-of-views are the lenses through which the story unfolds. They can be through one person or multiple persons. Short stories usually have a single point of view, that being said, there’s no restriction to using two people to tell the story.

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”

— Edgar Allan Poe

3. Themes and Ideas

Themes and ideas are plentiful and short stories are a great way to explore them, and test them before you use them in longer works. Sometimes, something that seemed like a great idea may not necessarily evolve into the work you expected.

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4. Condensing

I’ve spoken about the length of a short story. So, writing them forces you to condense your plot, tighten your prose and identify the most essential elements that make your story. It’s like sifting through sand to find a pin. Okay, that didn’t sound right but you know what I mean. You learn to cut out the redundancies. Is conveying the physical appearance all that important to the story? Is describing the parlour to the polished crystal candles necessary? (Unless the polished crystal candles somehow play in the plot).

5. Characters

When you decide a character is a romantic fool, then you’re forced to think of ways that can convey his romantic foolery. Once you finished writing the short story, you may decide that the aspect of romantic foolery didn’t sit as well as you expected. Perhaps, it never sounded right in the first place. So, you can immediately set aside the story and go on to a fresh page with a new character. Short stories allow you to explore different character traits including their habits and hobbies, preferences and dislikes, religion and world view and so forth. You can flesh out characters in a way that would help you plan your novel.

6. Earnings

I’m not saying short stories are an easy way to make money. Most well-paying magazines have a tight determination on how they want their stories to be written. But hey, we should never rule out how good you can get as a writer. It’s after all an art, isn’t it? The more you practice, the better you get. So, if you get good enough, perhaps you’ll find your name on a magazine and earn some extra cash on the side. And if you write a really good one, you might even get nominated for an award. Talk about visibility.

Note:

Read as many short stories before you start writing them. This book got me started into the journey of short stories.

© 2022 Priya Barua

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