This week: Going Short? Don't Skimp on the StoryEdited by: Dawn Embers
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Short Story Newsletter by Dawn
Sometimes a story is compared to a house. Much like tiny homes, short stories have many of the features of the larger modules but at a smaller size.
On top of the news and general life focus when it comes to media in general, my sister and I have gotten into a slight obsession with house build shows. In particular, we've watched every show about tiny homes that we could find. And I'm bringing that interest to writing with a little comparison. Stories are often compared to homes because they include a fair number of similar features, such as foundation, structure, and character. Short stories and micro stories are much like the tiny homes because they are a smaller version but still host most of the same features of a long story or novel series but with obvious differences. How much can a story compare to a building? Well, let's talk story through building.
Like any home or story, a short one requires some level of structure, whether it's in the story or just a matter of sentence structure. Even the most micro, smallest word count has this in order for the words to be placed right in order to make sense as a story. Much thought can go into a story that doesn't get seen by the reader as well. When reading someone else's writing, we don't know all of the elements and time that was put into making those words go together in order to achieve the end, readable result. The foundation, electrical, plumbing and other similar elements are known by the writer but tucked under floors and behind walls so that they aren't exposed on the surface. Well, not those exact things but the story equivalents. The essentials are there and the writer will almost always know more behind a story that what gets exposed in the end set of words.
The Basic Amenities
Most homes have some basic elements and it's the same with stories. For a home, whether large or tiny, there tends to be a bedroom type space, a bathroom, some cooking kitchen area and or living space. Granted some are bigger and in higher quantities when getting into the larger square footage locations but still, there are those basics. When it comes to stories, no matter word count, there are often similar elements. Most stories will have characters, they will have a plot/conflict and some type of setting. With the shorter and micro stories, there is a slight difference in the quantity and factors for those basics, much like that of a tiny home. A tiny story isn't going to hold as many characters (people), for example. The details to the setting is more compact but there is still some room for work and customization in order to make an interesting short story. A couple of elements might not be present, in particular when you get really small in micro fiction, much like you might not have a "kitchen" in a van sized home, but most of the story elements are present and it's a home that will have some dynamic features that make them worth the unseen effort.
There are benefits to going tiny or small in houses and stories. Where you can go and what you can do with a short story is going to have some different roads/options in comparison to the long novels. Publishing spaces, locations to submit and even online posting options are available in particular for a short story. On sites like this, you'll even stand more of a chance to get a random read when it's something smaller in size because it is definitely not as easy to get a reader to take a look at something that is much longer that will take more time. Chapter maybe but full 80,000 words, that is a big ask. Checking out a story that is 1,300 words is easier for some to check out in this digital age and site. And while the space might be less, that doesn't mean the story can't be dynamic. A tiny home can still provide big style living and a short story is the same. It's a story with a lot of potential for the impact that can be created for the reader.
Go tiny and write a short story.
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How do you keep the story big while keeping in a shorter word count?
Last time, all the way back in fall of 2019, I discussed word economy for the Short Stories newsletter. Here are a couple of comments over that particular topic with some consideration in writing shorter stories.
Comment by W.D.Wilcox
Word Economy: Good
Comment by Mikibits
I feel as if it's taken me so long to "make it" as a writer, because I kept hiding behind the excuse "I can't write short things." So busy writing 300,000 word novels I never pushed myself to do the short stories that would get me recognition. Later, back in college, teachers "forced" me to do this unthinkable thing, fit a story in this space. I loved it! Now I do 6 word memoirs, 50-word stories and flash (1000-word) stories, for fun. The best part is that now I can rewrite that old 300K novel in 75,000 words and it's so much the better for it. Limitation is an awesome thing.
Comments by 🌑 Darleen
Personally I try and write a quick synopsis to make sure I basic plotline, then I just write the story and when I'm done I edit it down based on the word count required. It's usually a painful process in some cases but usually I learn what's really important to the story and what's not. In other cases I can trim enough to add more important details elsewhere to enhance the story, so I think it's great practice.
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