Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Writing Short Fiction

by Linda Benson

Every writer gets stuck in a rut from time to time. You might have writer's block - although most writing advice is to forget that term and just sit down and WRITE - Anything! You might have slow sales, or be tired of the series you are working on, or just plain tired of writing! (It's not the glamorous job many dream of - but darn hard work.) Sometimes you just have so much else going on in your life that you can't actively concentrate on putting a novel together.

In my case, quite a few factors came into play for me, and I wasn't writing for awhile. Taking a mental break, I preferred to call it. Ruminating. Or letting the tea leaves settle.

But suddenly, I got all jazzed up again when I finished a short story about a kitten. (Who woulda thought?) I indie-published this short read, which I called The Winter Kitten, a couple of months before Christmas, and it's doing quite well. Not only here in the United States, but also in the UK, and I've even sold copies in Japan.

The best part of all this is that I discovered I really enjoy writing this length of work. In fact, I have a series planned now, called Cat Tales. The second one, called The Springtime Cat, will be out soon.

So - short fiction. In my case, these stories are about 10,000 -12,000 words long, which loosely translates (with cover, acknowledgements etc.) into about 40 pages, more or less, of reading material. And I'm finding that writing is suddenly fun for me again, because it's a challenge to come up with a complete story line, characters, plot with problems, conclusion, and hopefully pull some emotion from the reader also, in these few short words. Yes, I said that. Fun again!

And I believe there's a market for this kind of fiction also. Remember when magazines used to have short stories in them, and they were often really, really good? Today, with people's attentions distracted in myriad directions (thanks to the good old internet, blogs, our fast-moving society, etc.) I think there is even more of a market for short reads. Yes, I'd like to call them that. Short reads! Sounds a little sexier than short stories, don't you think? They lend themselves perfectly to reading on eReaders of all sorts - on Kindles, tablets, iPads, Phones, and even computers. And this category of short fiction could encompass longer things, like our own Natalie Keller Reinhert's Claiming Christmas, which comes in at about 90 pages (and is quite good, by the way!)

So I just wanted to share my excitement about how this new length of fiction has kick-started my writing career again, as well as my writing ambition. Funny, huh? (And all because of a kitten.)

Yes, I'm thinking of stories involving dogs, donkeys, chickens, ducks and yes, of course, even horses!

What about you? Have you read any short fiction lately? (Or written any?) 

Does it fit your busy lifestyle? Share your thoughts with us!


Ms Martyr said...

I like to pick up anthologies to discover new authors. Years ago I used to subscribe to both Alfred Hitchcock's mystery magazine and Ellery Queen. Both were comprised of short stories. I think Reader's Digest was (is?) around for so many years because sometimes all you have time for is a quick read and it's nice to be able to finish in one sitting.
On the other hand, I do love a good series. I tend to lose interest if the author takes too long to publish the next volume, however (Clan of the Cave Bear and Outlander series come to mind)

Linda Benson said...

Oh, you came up with some good examples, Ms Martyr. Thanks for weighing in. (And I also fall into the last category, taking for-EVER to finish a sequel to The Girl Who Remembered Horses.) But still busy writing shorter stuff - ha! I'll get there, I'll get there!

Alison said...

What a great idea! The internet really has opened up creative ways to share writing. And I find I am reading more short pieces (magazines)

I don't know what all those cats will be doing in your tales . . .mine sits around and occasionally kills a bird.