With several bestselling novels on the shelf, I recently turned my hand to writing short stories. Well, one short story so far to be exact. You wouldn’t think writing a short story would be too tricky for someone used to writing manuscripts of nearly 100,000 words. That was certainly my expectation. Wrong! It’s hard to present a brief snapshot without being superficial or resorting to clichés and it was a sobering reminder that every form of writing demands different skills.
First of all, there's the idea. In a novel, one idea can carry your writing for six months, or even a year, but each short story needs its own new idea.
How do short story writers come up with so many ideas?
Then there's the issue of character. There wasn’t enough time to give much detail, and no space for character development (it was a very short short story), and it’s hard to be unpredictable without leaving an unresolved contradiction.
As in novels, plot was important, but I wasn’t sure how much time I could afford to spend setting the scene, and how short the final twist could be.
But the biggest surprise to me was how the style of my writing changed when I was writing a short story.
If I ever dare show my one short story to anyone, I’ll post it here. I’m not sure if I will, but one thing I am sure of is that I now have even more respect for short story writers than I had before.