The Lovely Shorties

English teacher: We’re going to be writing stories in class…

Me: *Leans forward with excitement.*

English teacher: …Short stories.

Me: *Slumps slightly and cries internally.*

Not going to lie, short stories are my kryptonite. Telling me to write a short story is like telling hikers that regularly take on the tallest mountains to climb a little hill. I don’t despise them, or think that they’re not worth the time of day. In all honesty, I just legitimately find them to be one of the hardest forms of writing.

Now, let’s look at the reasons why.

Number one! There’s always a very specific limit about how long they can be. They are called “short” stories after all. I once wrote a story for a writing contest where the maximum amount of words you could have was four hundred and fifty. Four hundred and fifty. If that sounds like a large number of words, believe me, it’s not. For example, by this sentence you’ve already read about a hundred and sixty three words.

Sticking to a limit sometimes feels like being put in a cage and restrained. You can only have so many words, you can only have so many pages, now make a story with it. Often I like to simply write and see where it takes me, then cut down the excess stuff afterwards. Even this is difficult; actually, it’s especially difficult. Editing can also be a writer’s kryptonite.

If that isn’t enough, short stories really force you to choose which ideas are the best and most important. They force you to cut out anything that’s not, even when you yourself feel like it is.

Basically what this means is, you can’t introduce crazy ideas or have much world building. Well, I suppose you could, but it may confuse the reader depending on how much there is to explain the world. If the setting of a short story is in a place that’s familiar, or if the setting isn’t important, it leaves more room to focus on plot. With short stories, you need all the room you can get.

Since for the most part I enjoy giant fantasy and/or sci-fi environments when writing…err…Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem.

Speaking of needing room for plot, oh man, short stories need an entire plot in one. Solitary. Small. Package. You need a full introduction, climax, and conclusion. You need all the little juicy details of a large story in a small story. This, this is what makes it so hard to me, and why I’m amazed at all the authors who do short stories (seriously, good job guys).

The ability to have all of that in a short story is definitely something to be worked at. Despite its size, it needs to be manageable to write a full story and convey a message.

By the end of this, you should be able to understand why when I try to write a short story I get at least a tiny bit frustrated. Everything from the size to the restraints to the plot is insane.

So here I tell now: The length does not make the story. Short ones can be just as good, and most likely just as emotionally manipulating. And as always, for me personally, they are the most annoying form of writing to attempt


3 thoughts on “The Lovely Shorties”

  1. Hi Rhapsody! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts. I have especially enjoyed your dry, sarcastic, teenage wit… it comes oozing out everywhere to add humour around every corner. Question – Do you have a short story that you have written, which you like, which you could post? Also, please give even a temporary title to poor Cowen’s story – and, what is his secret?? – I NEED to know!!!!

    1. Thanks! I did just post a short story, and as for the title, ha ha, can’t say I can really think of one. I’ve been calling it “Forevermore” in my head, but as of yet I can’t find something that really goes with the story.

      1. Thanks for the short story! You are right, though, it definitely seems like it should turn into a novel – far too intriguing to end already.

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