Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Struggling With Short Stories

Short stories are a great exercise for a writer. They allow the mind a chance to flex its muscles (so to speak) and the writer to push the boundaries of their craft and try their hand at other genres than just their favoured one.

I write short stories most frequently outside of my favoured genre of fantasy. Of the short stories I have written in the last two years I have written two horror (one with vampire bad guys (no kissing these vamps) and zombies, the other with a serial killer and very cool twist), two mystery, one ‘nostalgia’ romance (I think I kind of came up with that genre name, it means the person is remembering being in love – if you know what the genre is really called let me know!) one urban fantasy, three slice of lifes and one fantasy.

Writing outside of my preferred genre seems to be the only way to keep at bay my ultimate short story writing flaw: actually keeping it short.

Short Stories are a struggle for me, not because I can’t write them, but because I will fall in love with a character (or several) or the premise and want to expand on it and next thing you know a less than 3,000 word short story becomes a fantasy quartet. I’m joking, that only happened once, the rest of the time it’s usually just a stand-alone novel.

I must confess that I prefer to write novels over short stories. Everything just seems to flow better and I don’t have to stifle ideas or squash down narrative as I sometimes have to with short stories. True it is much harder to complete a novel than a short story, but there is something more fulfilling in the work – to me at least.

What do you prefer? Or are you a fence-sitter?


  1. Merrilee

    I love both, but for me the joy in short stories is the challenge. Shorts rely much more on idea and language than novels. You can take those crazy ideas that come up and have a lot of fun with them, without having to commit to a full novel-length endeavour.
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    • Kirstie

      So true, the novel is a far more time consuming endeavour than a short story. With some luck I can usually have a short story written in one sitting and then polished in a week or so (pay attention to the ‘with luck’ part of that statement), where as my first novel was a decades worth of work (mostly through a lack of focus admittedly) and my second one is almost done after two and a half months (first draft only, so still far from ready). Definately much larger projects! I feel a greater sense of achievement when I complete a novel as compared to a short story and a portion of that sense comes from the time spent and the tenacity I’ve had to display.
      You’re right about how short stories are a challenge. The entirity of them has to have the intensity and quality of the famed ‘first line’ of the novel. Or at least that’s how I feel.

  2. Samoan

    I prefer reading novels,however I really enjoyed writing short stories…. damn your blog makes me miss writing ><

    • Kirstie

      We could always do a short story collab some time. Just for fun of course. It would give us a great excuse to hang out.

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