I learned the craft of writing through short stories. When beginner writers ask me for advice, I always recommend they try the same. There are a lot of reasons for this: every tale completed means more practice at writing beginnings, middles and ends; you can experiment; you’re getting feedback more frequently… Best of all, you’re leaving each story behind and starting a new one. You’re always trying something new.
I don’t know how often I’ve said this. I do know that my advice is rarely taken. Fair enough, you choose which advice you take. but even so, I have wondered why more people don’t start with short stories…
And then, following a conversation the other day, it finally occurred to me why.
Because every short story completed opens up the possibility of another rejection.
Because rejection is painful.
Because writing a story means putting your heart and soul out there with the risk that no one is interested. Writing a story exposes you to the world. Devastating if the world isn’t interested.
It’s far safer to write a novel. The rejections are a long way in the future. You can mess around with a novel indefinitely, endlessly perfecting it, dreaming of the time that its picked up, that it becomes a best seller. One short story does not make you a writer, but with a successful novel you can miss out the wannabe stage and go straight to the top of the tree.
Good luck to you if that happens, and I’d be really interested to hear how you did it. But otherwise, my advice remains the same. Write short stories