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Experience in Writing Short Stories and Novels. This post comes from mystery author Jan Christensen. She’s a writer that has experience in writing shorts stories and novels.

 

Experience in Writing Short Stories and Novels

When I first made a firm decision to become a  writer, I decided that writing short stories could teach me a lot about how to make up a good story in, um, short order.

 

 

I was maybe half right. Writing short stories can spoil you because they are usually finished rather quickly. At least quickly compared to writing novels. And because I wrote so many (over fifty published, probably another thirty in various stages of just beginnings to having been submitted but rejected), I became addicted to writing them, even though I wrote a few novels, too.

 

I do think I learned how to write a better story by writing so many short stories. I came up with an enormous number of characters, plots, descriptions, and learned a lot about craft along the way. They work great with critique groups, and I belonged to several over the years. The critiquers get a whole story at one time to give advice about. They could tell right away if a beginning, middle, or ending worked or not and explain why. Critiquing a novel chapter by chapter doesn’t give the writer as much help with the overall project.

 

I know several writers who swear they can’t write short stories. And I know several more who much prefer writing shorts stories to writing novels or anything else. I guess I’m fortunate because I learned to enjoy writing both. I think some of that learning was by osmosis because I read a lot of shorts and a lot of novels. Stephen King, in his book, On Writing, said he believes in reading one hour for every hour he writes. Sounds like a good formula to me.

 

My final takeaway is to read a lot, write a lot (whatever length), to polish a lot, and to submit. Studying craft can be helpful, of course, but you can learn a lot by reading other work.  And by writing your own.

 

Bio:

Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey and now resides in Texas. Organized to Death is her third published novel. She’s had over fifty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years, two of which were nominated for a Derringer Award.

Jan mainly enjoys writing mysteries, but every once in awhile steps out of that comfort zone and goes for something else, including non-fiction articles. She has a column about reading in the ezine, “Mysterical-e” and blogs regularly at her website.

 

Experience in Writing Short Stories and Novels

Check out her new book, Organized to Death

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  • 11-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    Jan,

    Like you, I believe in writing both short and long fiction, short stories and novels in a variety of lengths. It makes us better writers. Much success with your new novel!

  • 11-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    Incidentally, I love the hat–I own a similar one!

  • 11-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    I started out doing short stories years ago and hated writing them even though I published. I’m better at at poetry and novels. Trying to write a shorty story now but I am stumped so I’m back to writing another novel. It’s great that you and Jan are versatile

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    That’s good that you can write both genres.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    What was it about writing short stories that improved your writing skill?

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    I find that writing a novel is equal amounts pleasure, frustration, and tears. Esp. after my editor hands me the revisions for my first draft. LOL But, it’s so worth it.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    On Writing by King is a great book. I especially like that he included a section of his revised work.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    Like you, Jan, I started out writing short stories, then moved into writing novels. I think writing short is great training for any writer, and I don’t think writers have to choose one over the other. I may continue to turn out novels, but I’ll always have a short story or two on a front burner also.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    I was convinced I could only write novel-length fiction. Then someone challenged me to try writing short stories. That’s when I learned how to tell a story. Not everyone has the same experience – some great authors only write short, and others long. That’s just my take on it.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    Jan, writing short stories, for me, is pure pleasure. Writing novels is equal parts pleasure and torment, and yet I keep doing it. What I miss, when I’m not working on a novel, is the ability to escape into another world.

  • 12-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    I’d forgotten Stephen King’s advice on time spent on writing and reading. Good piece on writing short and long.

  • 13-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    I apologize for my inability to answer comments this weekend. My computer will not bring up Dee’s blog, so this morning I am on my husband’s computer to say thank you for all the comments. As you all know, feedback for a writer, about anything they’ve written (even articles) is manna from heaven. Dee, if you would like me to give you some personal advice about writing short, let me know. Thank you so much for having me here. Again, sorry about the comput4er gitch.

  • 13-May-13 | 1:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Yes, any advice you have for writing shorts wold be great.

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