Why writing short stories is important
My latest book, When the Night Comes Out, coming out close to Halloween 2018, is a collection of short stories. The stories themselves were all published on their own and are still available for about 99 cents a piece and just available for Kindle. For some people, the question I sometimes get asked is, with all of the novels and the fact I am fairly quick at cranking out books, why bother with short stories at all. So, I thought I'd go through some of the things I love about short stories and why I love going through periods where I write them instead of novels.
1. Short stories keep you sharp
You know what it's like when you want to exercise but, instead, you flop down on the sofa. You kind of spread out all over the furniture, maybe even laying down. You spread out and move slowly. This is what it's like when you write nothing but novels. You fall into a kind of sense of security. You get lazy and your imagination gets fat as you feel you can just take your time telling a story. You can make a novel as long as you want it and pad it with as much filler as you need.
Short stories help keep the imagination fit and trim. When you write a short story, you have to remember to keep the story active and exciting. You have to suck the reader in, get them to like and relate to the characters quickly and then get the thing over with fast. I write short stories to keep thing sharp. To exercise the imagination.
2. Sometimes a story just has to be short
If you write long enough, you sometimes just get a feel for how long a story needs to be. There are some stories that unveil themselves to you and you can see there's a novel-length story there. Other times, you just sort of develop an instinct that this story is a short story or a novella. I am a firm believer in the idea the stories tell themselves to me and I just transcribe what the characters tell me. So, I listen until they are finished. If what comes out is a short story or novella then I just know, but usually I get a feel for it well before I am finished writing it.
3. You can get darker in a short story
When you write a novel there is pressure to provide some kind of satisfactory resolution at the end. This does not always mean a happy ending, but as close to it as you can get. That's because a novel is a bigger time investment for the reader. If they come along with you for three hundred pages, they want some kind of ending that makes sense. You can't go all Lost on them, you know? I mean, you can try, but you had better brace for the bad reviews.
A short story is a different matter all together. The time spent is a bit shorter. The characters need to be well rounded, and you want people to feel for them, but they do not get quite as invested in them as they do within a novel. So, you can kill off characters, or leave them in a darker place at the end than you can with a novel.
4. Short stories let you explore things you might be afraid to
I have written short stories that were so strange even I have a hard time explaining them (check out The Suicide Man in my first collection). Despite the restriction of the number of words, you can freely explore magic, mayhem, murder and other things you might not want to with a novel. Again, darker is often better told in a short story. Sometimes I have written a short story first just to see if I can write in a new genre (apocalyptic fiction or a detective story).
5. Short stories get scarier faster
Novels are like horror movies in a lot of ways. They have a build up and build and build, then there is a big scare. Then it lets you breathe a bit, catch your breath, the the tension starts all over again. With a short story, you get nothing but jump scares. You have to. You build a bit and then BOO and then the story is done and you're left staggered (hopefully).
My latest collection of short stories is one I am very proud of. I think it's some of my best short fiction and you can now get them in print if you haven't read them all individually via Kindle. I think these are some of the best horror tales I have told and I am proud to present them in When the Night Comes Out this Halloween.
Let me tell you a story...
Preorder your copy of When the Night Comes Out in Print or Kindle editions by clicking any of the cover images (above or below) or the links above.