I think you need to read a short story. Today. Or this weekend, at least. Okay, since I write romantic short story collections, I’ll admit this is like showing up at my daughter’s job interview and telling the boss to hire her. (She’s only eight. I won’t be humiliating her like that anytime soon.) But I don’t know many people who do read short stories, and with the explosion of ebooks and ereaders, I think it’s a great time for this genre to make a comeback. So here are five reasons you should think about picking up a few short stories—even if you’re convinced they’re not for you.
1) They’re perfect for lunch or your kids’ practices. I’ve sat through many Tae Kwon Do practices that could have been made much enjoyable with a short story on standby. Technically, short stories are 1,000-7,500 words in length, so they can easily be read in one sitting. (Anything shorter than that is flash fiction. Stories over 7500 words and up to 20,000 words are called novelettes, which sound like fancy little desserts, so I just call mine short stories, even though mine are around 10,000 words. Novellas are 20,000-50,000 words.) I’ve heard from lots of readers who save my stories to enjoy during lunch, a little something to look forward to during the workday. So instead of having to put down a novel at a crucial moment, you can get the satisfaction of an entire story arc in one sitting. Think of it as a satisfying lunchtime quickie.
2) You get to know a lot of characters. My short story collections have five stories in each collection, so you’ll meet lots of different couples in interesting situations. If I’ve done my job, you’re going to feel like you really got to know and care about these folks. As a reader, I love learning about new characters and places, and a few short stories a week will fill that desire, whether from a collection, or a bunch of individual shorts.
3) It’s a great way to try out a new genre. I’m not a big sci-fi reader, but I recently picked up a short story with an interesting premise that’s getting a lot of buzz online. I’m still thinking about that story a week later. Would I have read it if it had been a novel? Probably not. Too big of a commitment in my crazy busy world. But this short story was the perfect way to pass an hour, and now I have to rethink my stance on “not liking sci-fi.”
4) Okay, maybe #4 should be #3b, but short stories are also perfect for finding new authors. More authors are self-publishing shorter pieces like novellas and short stories in addition to their novels. (It’s a great way for authors to release something new in between their longer works.) Shorter stories can help you discover if you like the author’s style and voice without spending too much time and money. Short story anthologies featuring different writers are fantastic for discovering new authors. I’m seeing more and more of these come out every day in all different genres.
5) Just because it’s a short story, doesn’t mean it’s not a complete story. I think this is the biggest reason people are reluctant to try short stories; like it’s going to be as fulfilling as one bacon wrapped scallop on a toothpick when you really want the stuffed haddock with the rice pilaf. I’ll let some of my reviews speak to this. From L. Miller on Amazon, for my novella Spouse Hunting: “Shorter stories are tough. You have to set up the story, characters, scene--everything in an economical fashion without looking rushed. You have to leave the reader feeling it was long enough to get the stories within the story spelled out. Some can't do in 200 pages what this writer managed to do in 70 pages.” From B.L. Rice Reading Junkie on Amazon for my collection Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories: “I really do not like this genre much, but I couldn't help that the reviews were so positive. So, I took a chance and got it. I love it! The stories are quick and sweet.” From TDN “ABookAday” on Amazon for my short story “The Hot Girl’s Friend” (from Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories) “Lisa Scott has a wonderful ability to use such few words and immediately sink her reader into the story and the characters better than some authors who have an entire novel to work with!” And nope, these weren’t relatives or reviewers bribed with chocolate. Short stories really can be fun, fulfilling, and totally worth your time.
So even if you’ve never tried a short story, and you’re convinced it’s not for you, give it a shot. Get yourself to your favorite ebook site and start browsing. You’re sure to find one in your favorite genre, or maybe you can try something new. This could be the start a beautiful relationship between you and short fiction. A secret lover on the side whenever you need a little love. Your novels never need to know.
About the Author:
When not begging her husband and two kids for a few minutes of peace to write her stories, she works as a voice actor and putters around in her koi pond and garden in upstate NY.
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