A lot of people, usually non-writers, think that writing is akin to some magical storytelling gift that a few select people are born with and that writing a book is an innate ability. Well, there might be a few authors out there who enter this world with a fully-formed novel in their brain, but in reality, writing is simply lot of learning, loads of hard work, and practice, practice, practice.
Few authors sell the first book they write. Generally, that first foray into writing a full-length novel is where writers cut their teeth. It’s usually a year or more in the making (sometimes 10 years!) unless NaNoWriMo (writing a 50,000 word book in the month of November) is employed. But even then, the product of those 30 days of pounding out the pages usually needs an enormous amount of editing.
So, what’s a new writer with a brilliant idea to do? Spend a huge chunk of her life writing a novel that she knows will never see the light of day? Maybe. Many, many writers embark on their career paths with just such a scenario. But there is another way. Perhaps a more fulfilling way.
Writerly types are often plagued with story ideas or snippets of scenes or taunted by characters in their heads trying to bubble to the surface in any way possible. And generally, these inspiring nuggets get scribbled onto a piece of paper in a frenzy before their brilliance evaporates; then, tucked away into a drawer, pinned to a corkboard, or filed away in a dream journal. But instead of collecting a pile of story ideas, how about putting them in play right away? How about writing a short story, or even flash fiction?
Short stories serve as a great way to hone your writing skills. Working in short formats allows you to study structure, plotting out a clear and tight beginning, middle and end. You learn to develop full character arcs and to create imaginary worlds. Short fiction gives a new writer the opportunity to discover her voice, explore her passions, and determine what her overarching themes are all about – what message she is imparting.
But just because it’s a short story, that doesn’t mean no one will read it. Au contraire! In the age of Wattpad, blogging and YouTube, there are plenty of places to display your short stories. And with those forums come friends, followers, and fans. So, why cut your teeth on a massive 90,000 word novel when you can create ten different stories, each one better than the last? And when you have learned the storytelling ropes, you’ll be ready to not only write your first novel, but to sell it, too.
Simon & Fig