24 responses

  1. Guilie
    January 16, 2013

    Great piece, and great advice. I’ve always thought that more novelists should write shorter fiction, if only as an exercise. Short stories force us to focus on the important bits, cut away the extraneous detail that us novelists are so fond of, hone our language and imagery. The publication credit issue clinches it for me. Thanks for a great post!
    Read Guilie´s last article ..Copycat

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Thanks, Guilie! Writing a short story is very different from writing a novel, but they’re still great to build your writing skills. And maybe like me, writers will find that once they start writing short fiction, they really enjoy it!

  2. Joe Bunting
    January 16, 2013

    Good post, Suzannah. I just submitted a slew of short fiction yesterday. Fingers crossed.
    Read Joe Bunting´s last article ..What Should I Read This Year?

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Oooh, I love that feeling of just having sent out some submissions. Don’t like the waiting to hear back about them, though! Good luck, Joe!

  3. Anne R. Allen
    January 16, 2013

    This is so wise. I hope it will go viral. An overwhelming majority of new writers go straight to novels. I sure did. But it wasn’t until I got short fiction and essays published that I got taken seriously.

    EVERY writer should be working at getting credits–not only ones who are hoping to get agents. I wrote a blogpost on the importance of short fiction last year, and I got a barrage of self-published short story writers wanting to guest post for me about how “fulfilling” it was to self-publish a bunch of amateur short stories. Totally missing my point. If you get short stories published by a journal where the fiction is vetted, that gives customers a signal that all your fiction: self or trad pubbed, has the stamp of approval of somebody other than your mom. This is a great, nicely argued post. Thanks!
    Read Anne R. Allen´s last article ..The Number One Mistake New Writers Make

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Anne, thanks so much for your thoughts! I agree that all writers can benefit from short fiction, whether or not they NEED it to get a novel published, or are looking for an agent. What is there to lose, really?

  4. kcclamb
    January 16, 2013

    I find myself more of a novelist. I try writing short stories, but I don’t seem to ever be able to keep it short. And if it is short, it amounts to only a few paragraphs. When I have done acceptable length short-stories, it was because it was filling in blanks on a previously published story (aka NOT MY published story). I also have tried past tense OR third person OR both. I always revert back to first person, present tense. And it drives me crazy. I know there are great stories in my head, I just can’t seem to ever get them done because of the view point. :P

    There I go again, overstepping the questions asked. Sorry.

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      It’s certainly not easy, at first, to get the long form out of your head if that’s what you’re used to. But honestly, it gets so much easier after the first one or two. A lot of contemporary short stories are in present tense, either first or third person, so don’t worry too much about it. Use the point of view that works best for your particular story, and you won’t have too many complaints.

  5. Melissa Kinnel
    January 16, 2013

    I’m working on some short fiction that I plan on submitting to various publications for just this reason. I’ve come to the conclusion that this will help me with my writing and, if anything is published, will give me some credibility before moving on with a novel.
    Read Melissa Kinnel´s last article ..Blog Gone Wrong

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Melissa, it’s wonderful to hear that you’re thinking about building your credibility before moving on with a novel. You can only become more skilled and confident, not less!

  6. Krissy Cabeen
    January 16, 2013

    Thanks for these insights, Suzannah! My 2013 goals include submitting short fiction… for all the reasons you mentioned. The first piece is ‘due’ 1/31 and I’ve been eyeballing my ‘resting’ novel, itching to get back to it. This post will help keep me focused on the short piece. I definitely prefer writing short fiction for skill / technique practice as opposed to writing exercises. Is that horrible? Thanks again and Happy 2013 to you and Write it Sideways community!

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Great to hear from you, Krissy! The painful-but-necessary thing about taking a bit of time off to write short fiction is this: when you do dive back into your novel, you’ll see numerous ways to improve the language, flow, dialogue, etc.. This is a bit of a curse, because it means you’ll want to edit your novel again, possibly after you thought it was already ‘done’! But it’s also a blessing because your novel will be that much more polished when you submit it to agents. Good luck!

  7. surinderleen
    January 17, 2013

    Thanks! You are going to create a new genre of short stories that has been lost in past. I am already cycling towards it and I have gotten success in it as my story has published in leading magazine in Juanuary 2013. A great novelist said that short stories give pause and rest after writing, editing a novel.
    It is like jogging to pause for a while for again start running! It is healthy!

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      I think the short form is definitely gaining popularity again, especially given how busy we all are these days. Congratulations on having one of your stories published! That’s fantastic!

  8. Sharon Settle
    January 17, 2013

    Good advice as always Suzannah.
    I would add the use of blogging as a good tool to help agents and editors take notice of you as a writer.
    Having a blog of your own and commenting regularly on others shows publishing professionals that you may have a built in audience for your work as well as being in tune to current industry topics and trends.
    Read Sharon Settle´s last article ..After All I Am The AUTHOR

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      I agree, Sharon. Blogging is a great tool to help you connect with other writers, agents and editors. But, the even the best ‘writing bloggers’ can be terrible writers of fiction, so working toward being the most skilled writer you can be is still important. A blog, however, can help you showcase your skill—for example, I have a portfolio page linked to Write It Sideways. Thanks!

  9. Benison O’Reilly
    January 17, 2013

    Funny you should write this now, Suzannah. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, as my second novel has been slow going. I’ve had several short pieces published in the last year, admittedly all non-fiction, but I do have a distinctive voice and in a small market such as Australia I’m hoping this extra exposure will make a difference when I eventually look for a publisher/agent for this novel. maybe I should think about short-fiction – never considered it!
    Read Benison O’Reilly´s last article ..The youngest of my boys, Joe…

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      January 17, 2013

      Benison, it’s great to hear from you! I’ve been meaning to send you an email, actually, so watch your inbox…

      I know you’ve written and published a significant amount of nonfiction, and a novel. Perhaps publishing short fiction in some of the leading Australian lit mags would better help build your name as contemporary writer of fiction. Exciting!

  10. Pam
    January 27, 2013

    Thank you so much for this piece. It was a much-needed reminder for me. I started writing seriously again a few years ago after years of “some-daying,” and I did start with shorter pieces. In 2011 and 2012, I was successful in getting 2 short stories and 2 nonfiction pieces published. I worked on finding them homes around writing my first novel. I’ve been looking at 2013 as the year that I’ll edit my novel and seek representation, and have completely forgotten about 2 short stories still sitting homeless on my computer. Or, more accurately, I’ve been thinking “I’ll go back to trying to work with them AFTER I deal with the book.” This is making me rethink that, since I really feel these two shorts are prime examples of my writing style and would help define me as a new writer. They’ll be getting the attention they deserve : ).
    Read Pam´s last article ..Why I Chose to Seek a Literary Agent

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