Will I Write Short Stories…Ever?

Someone asked me about doing a short story, and while I answered her, I thought other people probably have the same question so I’ll answer it in this post.

I have no plans to write short stories.  Far too many people are dissatisfied with short stories.  They want the stories to be longer.  I don’t know if this is true for all authors or just me, but in my experience, most people want me to write a full-length novel.  I see this based on sales, comments, reviews, and emails.  Plus, when I write a short story, I can also see many ways for it to expand.  There are some authors out there who specialize in short stories.  Writing a short story is an art.  It’s an art I don’t have a knack for.  I admire authors who can successfully pull off a short story.  I know they’re out there because I’ve seen them.  😀

I do best will full-length stories between 60,000 to 80,000 words.  Now, that range can vary.  I did write 114,000 words for Brave Beginnings, but that happened to be one of those books that never wanted to end and since the characters were guiding me, I went along with what they wanted.  But my average is 70,000 words, which is why I put my word count goal for every book I start at 70,000.  As I write the book, I get a better idea of whether it’ll be less or more than the 70,000-word goal.

So that’s why I don’t write short stories or novellas anymore.  Writing is an evolving process.  The more authors do it, the more they learn what works and what doesn’t.  This is why I’m constantly accessing my strengths and weaknesses and trying to focus on my strengths.  My strengths are full-length stand-alone historical western or Regency novels.  I also need to let my characters guide me as I go.  I can’t work with outlines until I’m about three chapters away from being done with a book, and that outline is basically keywords that remind me what comes next and keeps me on track to clean up loose ends. I’ve also learned that I can avoid rewriting if I take a break from a story if it stalls as I’m writing it.  I can’t write scenes ahead because they rarely work out because the characters often steer me in direction I never saw coming.  I have finally come to the point where I trust the characters to guide me, even if I worry (in the back of my mind) that they are screwing everything up.  Every time I’ve done it they’re way, it works out great.  Every time I didn’t, the story either needed to be rewritten or thrown out.

So basically, writing is not a one-size-fits-all venture, and not all books are the same because the characters have their own personalities.  And even though I’ve been writing romances since very late 2007, I am still learning something new every time I write a book.  This is why it seems like I’m changing my mind a lot.  I’m always going through and figuring out how to make my current story better than the last one I wrote, and part of that is figuring out what I write best and how I write it best.

Hope that all makes sense.  😀

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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4 Responses to Will I Write Short Stories…Ever?

  1. I’ve published one short story. For some reason the idea came to me, and I wrote and wrote until it was finished. I generally write novellas and shorter novels (50K-60K). Here’s the biggest problem I see with short stories. So many of them leave the reader hanging, going “what”? I read a collection of short stories recently (all by the same author), and some of them didn’t seem to have a satisfying ending. I find that happens a lot in short stories. Sometimes it seems as if the author is trying to end them on some clever note, but nothing is resolved at all. It just stops abruptly. Or the ending makes no sense (maybe I’m just dense). When I wrote my short story, I made sure it had a happily ever after and that the readers knew what happened. It actually had a surprise ending. I still had people saying they wish it was a full length book. LOL. You can’t please everyone.

    I admire authors like you who have SO many ideas that keep going, and that you have enough story to make a full length novel. My biggest fear as an author is that I’ll run out of ideas. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet!

    • I’ve decided to shorten my expectation for Bound by Honor, Bound by Love. That book is probably going to be in the 50,000-word range, which is still good but not as much as I usually do. I don’t know if I’ll get complaints it’s not longer since book 1 was over 60,000 words and book 2 was 114,000 words (my longest book ever), but I’m tired of trying to figure out how to lengthen this thing. If I were to do this over, I would have ended the series at the second book (probably by dividing book 2 up since it was so long and adding book 3 as a subplot). But since books 1 and 2 are already out there, I’m just going to do book 3 as it’s meant to be. It was a hard decision to come to, but I can’t force this story to be something it isn’t. Maybe that’s the lesson I needed to learn.

      However, anything shorter than 20,000 words has to be off my list. I get far too many complaints. I think it’s the genre. Jolenne had a good point about that. Maybe a standard romance has an audience that expects longer stories in order to feel complete. I think you’re right about short stories sometimes seeming incomplete. It really is an art to be able to write them. Your Beauty and the Beast short was complete, and I loved the twist. 😀 I love a fresh new spin on stories we grew up with.

  2. Short stories are a LOT harder to write than a full length book IMHO! Besides, maybe I’m weird, but I don’t think they work well for all genres. Like, I prefer a full length romance to a short story romance. In a short story I just don;t have enough time to really care about the characters – unless it starts getting near 40,000 words or so and at that point, heck, might as well make it a novel 😉

    • I agree about the genre playing a part in if short stories work or not. Your vampire morsels are perfect as shorts because they complement the novels you do. You show how characters became vampires.

      I think horror and erotica both work well as shorts, too. Romance stories, however, do take longer because I think the focus is on the couple falling in love, and it’s hard to do that in a short span of time (words).

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