Over the years, I’ve written: poems, songs, articles, newsletters, novels and blogs; but the short story eluded me. Then I saw a handful of short story competitions being advertised and, since I like to challenge my writing skills, I thought ‘why not’? Not only did I discover that I enjoyed writing short stories, I also realised that my novel writing skills had been sharpened as a result. In particular, I noticed changes in three main areas:
1. Character development
Due to the limited word counts in short story competitions, I had to learn how to show the motivation and personality of each character in a short space of time. This is a beneficial skill to have in novel writing, as it stops you from reaching the end of the manuscript without a clear picture of your characters.
I’m a waffler. At least, I used to be. I tended to repeat the same thing numerous times in my manuscripts. Once again, the word limits taught me how to omit pointless words and get down to what I really wanted to say.
3. Development of style and voice
Writing your first novel is both an exciting and frustrating time. Although the story is bubbling within you, it can be difficult to develop a unique style and find your own voice. Multiple short story writing is a great way to develop this because; the more you write, the quicker you will improve. By exploring a range of characters and situations (as opposed to the same ones in a novel), you increase your skills.
So, if you are struggling with your novel writing skills, and need assistance with any of the above-mentioned issues, why not give the short story a try?