So what am I going to write? Short stories, novels, or what?

Up to this point in my writing career (such as it is), I’ve only written short fiction. Why?

First, and probably the primary reason, is the traditional advice that writers should start with short stories before they write novels. Whether this holds as true today as it once did, I’m not sure.

Second, I’ve never had an idea that I considered good enough for a novel. Then again, my ideas tend to be puzzle pieces — they never make a picture on their own, but must be joined with other pieces. Perhaps if I took one of my puzzle pieces and took the time to hunt down its friends, I’d prove to myself that I am capable of coming up with novel ideas.

Third, there’s the issue of time. I’ve mentioned that I still work a full-time job, which leaves me little time to write. Short stories are, well, short. A shorter, less costly investment.

But now I find myself questioning my path. I did a Google search on the topic to see what others had to say, and this led to more questions. Should I stick with the short stuff until I feel like I’m ready? Is the traditional way still the best way? Or should I try something new? Would breaking tradition unlock my potential and my future?

Hell if I know. Let’s list this out.

Why should I write novels instead of short stories?

  • My stories tend to go on long. Perhaps their core ideas aren’t enough for novels, but I think the way I write is reminiscent of long form.

  • I think I may have more of a natural instinct for longer work. I have no actual evidence of this. Just a feeling.

  • It is my final goal. Short stories are fun and all, but it’s always been about eventually working my way up to novels. Why delay the inevitable?

  • It is what I prefer to read. Ironic, perhaps, considering how I complain about lacking time, but I’ve always preferred having time to invest emotion in the fiction I consume. I like television series over movies, for instance. I prefer novels to short stories, though not necessarily a series to standalone novels. That’s a topic for another day.

  • Short fiction and long fiction are different markets, and they involve different skills. Working on short stories will not necessarily make my future novels better.

Why should I write short stories instead of novels?

  • Short and long fiction may not share all the same skills, but there is some overlap. I still need to break off the rust from the writer’s block, so short form may be good for practice.

  • Writing short fiction may make it easier to build readership. As I’ve only been published a few times (two of those only being the flashiest of flash fiction), I’m still an unknown. Especially since I’m thinking of switching the name I write under. I need readers who know me.

  • Short fiction allows for more experimental stuff. I may not be a groundbreaking pioneer, or some kind of writing rebel, but the flexibility does appeal to me in case I need it.

  • As I already mentioned, time. It always comes down to time with me. Time and money (but money is not part of this discussion).

So, I still have no answer. For now, as I have this story I’m editing, I suppose I’ll stick with the status quo.

But in the future? Who knows? Maybe I can do both at the same time. I’ve never worked on multiple projects. Perhaps it would be enough to challenge me.

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5 Comments on “So what am I going to write? Short stories, novels, or what?”

  1. Betsy says:

    Why limit yourself to only one type of writing? I say try it all. You are a talented author, and experimenting with different text types can only help you hone your craft even more.b

  2. […] So what am I going to write? Short stories, novels, or what? (unstableshapeshifter.wordpress.com) […]


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