I used to write a lot of short stories. Before I had even considered writing a novel, before I thought it would be possible for me to write a novel, I wrote short stories all the time. I wrote short stories about weird things, like an experiment we did in my science class with an egg and some vinegar. I wrote short stories about weirder things, like one about a girl playing the cello that my creative writing teacher equated to sex.
That became extremely uncomfortable extremely quickly, but I did win an award for that one.
And, in the beginning phases of Martyrs, I wrote a lot of short stories for the novel, too. I wrote short stories to explain the backstory. I wrote short stories to explore the world. But most importantly, I wrote short stories to develop the characters.
It works phenomenally well.
One of the best ways to understand your characters is to write for them, write about them, and see how they behave down on paper (or on a word processor–you know, modern times and all). We can have an idea about a character, but when we get to actually writing about them, we may find the character is actually a bit different than we assumed. We can also decide what we like and don’t like, and adapt our writing around the character appropriately.
In other words, I think short stories are exceptionally valuable to bettering our writing and understanding who our characters really are.
Lately, though, I haven’t really written any short stories.
There are a lot of reasons for that. One, I’m ridiculously busy. I write a new blog post every single day and I work on my novel when I’m not doing blog posts. I have a house and a husband and a business, not to mention dogs and cats and family. Two, I’m also ridiculously out of practice. I spend so much of my time writing novels that it’s really hard for me to confine myself to a few thousand words. Three, my writing style is also better suited for novels at this point, because that’s what I’m most comfortable writing.
(Weird, really, to think about a time when I thought it would be impossible for me to write books, and now I feel unqualified to write shorter pieces.)
Anyway, that being said, I made a promise to a friend of mine recently. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve probably realized I make a lot of foolish commitments (one blog post a day for an entire year? National Novel Writing Month?). These commitments usually just take up MORE of my writing time, but in the end they’re always useful. Anyway, moving on.
I promised him I’d start to write short stories about the Martyrs world again. He seems convinced that people would love to read that work. I’m convinced it will be kept mostly to my own archives. What do you guys think? If I wrote short stories about the Martyrs world, would you be interested in reading them?
All the same, I’m actually pretty excited about the idea. More writing practice is never a bad thing, right? Besides, I don’t think it’s possible to know your characters too well.