Skip to content

Playing To Your Writing Strengths

28 August, 2008

If, like me, you write with the ultimate aim of getting published one day, you may have heard a piece of advice that runs thus: To break into the market, it’s best to get some short stories in print first, then use your publishing credits to your advantage when you try to get a novel published. It sounds like good advice and indeed, for some people, that may well be the way to go about breaking into the publishing world. Lately I’ve realised something though: that strategy is unlikely to work for me.

Put simply, I’m not terribly good at writing short stories. Sure, I can write them and I’ve even had one accepted to an online magazine. Generally though, I really struggle to write anything shorter than 30,000 words. My brain just doesn’t work that way. Whenever I have an idea, I immediately start adding it into a novel, be that one I’m working on or one I might work on in the future. For me, writing novels is far easier than writing short stories, which sounds strange, but that seems to be the way my brain works. I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t particularly enjoy reading short stories, whereas picking up a novel seems like the most natural thing in the world.

This realisation has led me to give up with short stories, for the moment and concentrate on finishing my latest novel. That’s not to say that I won’t try again with short fiction in months or years to come – I believe in challenging myself in my writing as much as possible – but, for now, that’s not where my emphasis is going to lie.

I suppose my advice is this: sometimes it’s best to play towards your writing strengths. Right now, I feel that struggling with short stories that I’m not going to enjoy writing would be a waste of my time. That lack of enthusiam will doubtless show in any story I write, which will likely lead to rejection. It may be going against perceived wisdom, particularly in the field of SF and fantasy, but for me it’s got to be novels all the way.

  1. 28 August, 2008 6:58 pm

    A publisher once told me that I should not attempt a novel first, because a novel was the hardest to do. Like you, I don’t feel that much at home with short stories – and I’ve already self-published my novels. The reviews have been great! You really do need to play to your strengths

  2. Amy permalink*
    28 August, 2008 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the comment, inez. It’s great to know that someone’s out there has tried what I’m advocating and found it works. Hopefully I’ll have the same luck!

  3. 25 January, 2009 12:37 pm

    I agree, Amy. People sometimes suggest I write short stories, but I feel short stories are actually a lot harder to write than novels. Inez, congratulations on your self-publishing ventures.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: