Short Story Exploration

I mentioned earlier this month that one of my Summer Writing Plans this year is to work on more short stories. Since June is quickly approaching, this week I’m going to give an update on how that is going.

So far, I have most of one short story drafted, and another in the planning stages. The first one I will continue to refine and fill in the gaps while working on The University of Iowa International Writing Program summer MOOC I also mentioned in my summer plans post. The assignments there linked up well with my first short story idea, a mini mystery involving the reunion of three former circus performers twenty years after the mysterious death of the circus’ owner.

The second short story that I’m currently preparing is actually part of a larger story idea. One of the advantages of writing these shorter pieces is the opportunity to play around with characters, settings, and plots without committing yourself to a full novel. This story idea focuses on a young man who explores and goes on adventures to collect different magical items.

It feels a bit odd not writing in a longer format. So far, most of my pieces have been longer novel-length works by the time they are finished. It’s been interesting to work within the shorter length. 

Part of why I want to practice short stories is like I mentioned above, they’re a great way to test out a story idea without getting overly involved or committed to a longer work. Another reason is the ability to showcase my writing style in a shorter piece. Especially with the opportunity to work with creative writing faculty approaching, I’d love to have some complete stories to present. 

Short stories can also be a good way to get your work published, though I haven’t moved to that step yet. Anthologies and magazines are examples of places where a short story may have a better opportunity than a longer work. I try to write my short stories like I write my longer works, without a particular goal of publication for the first draft or two. Otherwise I start to get paralyzed and frustrated with both myself and the story. Sometimes a short story might not be something you want to publish at all; it could be backstory for a character or pure experimentation. 

Regardless of how you use them, short stories are a valuable tool in a writer’s arsenal. I hope my own exploration of the format will yield good results! Have you tried writing short stories before? Are they your preferred form for your writing?

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