Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Milo James Fowler's 5 Reasons to Write Short Stories


Please welcome speculative fictioneer Milo James Fowler with his
 5 Reasons to Write Short Stories!



It's the writer's dream: snag an agent, sign a book deal with a big publishing house, see our work on the shelf at the airport bookstore. But writing novels takes time. And revisediting them takes a whole lot more. We need something along the way to boost our creative energy and remind us why we started writing those 300-page tomes in the first place: to share our work with readers.

For the past six years, I've been writing and submitting short stories for publication. No agent is necessary, you can build your audience and compile publication credits, and you'll get paid for your work. Some novelists think they can't do short fiction, that their stories are too big. But some of my favorite authors have done it well: Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, China Mieville, and Alastair Reynolds. If they can, so can we.

Here are 5 good reasons why you should write short stories:

1.      1.  There are so many short fiction venues available now: magazines, anthologies, online zines, and eReader publications. Check out The Submission Grinder and find the right publication for your style and genre.

2.       2. Writing and selling short stories is an excellent way to build a portfolio of your published work and compile publication credits, proving your work is publishable. Once the rights revert to you, the stories can be republished elsewhere as reprints, expanding your audience even further.

3.       3. Pay varies widely from token to pro, but there are other benefits, such as exposure. Having your story published alongside a well-known author in a themed anthology will introduce new readers to your work. And pro-level sales will lead to qualifying membership in professional writers' associations.

4.       4. Writing short stories forces us to use our words wisely, to be clear and concise, to focus on conflict and tension, and to be constantly aware of the story arc. Writing a short story with a specific word count ensures that we make every word count.

5.       5. Perhaps the greatest benefit to writing short fiction is the ability to develop characters from your novels, giving readers some insight into their backstory—or creating characters that will someday appear in novels of their own. A few years ago, I wrote 7 stories about Captain Bartholomew Quasar, sold 6 of them to various publications, and then had a publisher approach me about writing a novel-length adventure. I've sold other tales with recurring characters—Coyote Cal & Big Yap (weird westerns), Mercer the Soul Smuggler (urban fantasy), Charlie Madison, Private Investigator (future noir)—and it's been a blast to learn more about them and their respective worlds with every story I write.

This is a great time to be a writer. Don't pigeonhole yourself. Branch out, stretch those wings, and see what you can do.
Write on,
Milo



Note from Tyrean: I highly recommend Milo's fiction! His characters are compelling and his plots have roller coaster twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. My favorite character happens to be Charlie Madison, P.I. (his series starts with Girl of Great Price), but I also enjoy all of Milo's other characters, too. 


In addition to Milo's awesome books, I also want to briefly give a shout-out to Laurel Garver for her newest book, Almost There, a poignant tale of love, grief, art, mistakes, and grace. Beautiful writing. Laurel will guest post in August.

24 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

Milo has some great reasons for writing short fiction. I've found #4 and #5 to be the most beneficial when I wrote shorter fiction.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good reasons, Milo. I've written some short stories now for publication, including two that expanded on my trilogy.

Nick Wilford said...

Great reminders from Milo. A publication can give you a real boost if things are taking longer on the novel front.

Chemist Ken said...

Short fiction would certainly allow me to get to "The End" much faster than I am now. I haven't thought about how the story structure I learned for novels would apply, but it'd be interesting to check out.

Heather R. Holden said...

Great list! I especially love reason #4. Having a limited word or page count definitely helps stories become stronger! It can be far too easy to go off tangent otherwise...

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great post. I love writing short stories, though I've been working on a longer piece since the beginning of the year. My go-to example of a good short story writer is Daphne du Maurier - her words ping off the page, and she traverses genres easily. I've never been able to get into her novels though.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Those are great reasons for writing short stories. I've never tried. It seems so hard to get a whole story out in so few words.

Juneta Key said...

Great reason. Enjoyed the post. I like writing short stories and flash fiction. Its challenging to tell a story with beginning, middle and end in a few words and make it satisfying to reader.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love Milo's last lines about stretching our wings. And I'm a huge fan of King's short stories and novellas.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Me, too! :)

Denise Covey said...

Milo's got it right! There's a big market for shorts! The markets I write for pay extremely well...:-)

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

Very convincing reasons to write short stories. I've never been very good at keeping things short. Obviously, I need more practice.

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

P.S. I tried commenting on your IWSG post, but the comment didn't appear so I'm posting it here:
Summer does flip the schedule upside down. And it's really nice to get to work outdoors. I agree with Sean. I'm so done with zombies. I'm glad there are a few post-apocalyptic stories out there without them.
I've never made any lists on Goodreads. I'll look yours up and see how they work.
Good luck with your new summer story ideas!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I need to figure out how to utilize #5 better, so I'm glad Milo included it. It reminds me . . .

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great stories, Alex!

Tyrean Martinson said...

So true.

Tyrean Martinson said...

It is interesting to apply novel structure to short stories, because everything happens so quickly without as much exposition/introduction.

Tyrean Martinson said...

So true!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I'm going to have to check out du Maurier's writing!

Tyrean Martinson said...

It is definitely a challenge, but it can be fun like solving a word puzzle.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

All great reasons to write shorts!

Tyrean Martinson said...

:)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks, Lori!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I think so, too!