Switching Gears – Short Stories vs. the Novel


Have you ever had manuscript burn out?  I have and I am sure more people have.  For me manuscript burn out comes from having to write the same story for 80,000 words and figuring out the centers.  I love beginnings and the climax.  I feel like endings are my stronger points.  What I hate are the middles – or the filler parts.  How do you stop your story from dragging or adding in information that isn’t getting you anywhere?  My answer?  Well I don’t have a good one.  I do on the other hand have a brain break.

I decided to try my hand at a short story or two.  Give my mind a small break from the big picture and work on a few smaller ones.  The outcome is I feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  I feel like I just accomplished something.  A short story can vary depending on who and what you are writing for.  Anywhere from 1,000 words to 30,000 words.  With all the new emerging e-publishers there is a demand for a short story talent. If nothing else you can really focus on your voice and writing style.Refresh

In a short story you can’t have a lot of back story and you don’t want to start in the wrong place.  If you do your short turns in a blob of too long.  It’s easy to pinpoint pointless filler or maybe that you started in the wrong spot.  This can actually help you with your longer stories.  Sure you aren’t going to start a novel in the same place – or maybe you are.  A short story might actually only be the beginning, the minor conflict, and the resolution.  A short story probably won’t have every element a novel would have, there probably won’t be a few minor conflicts and then massive blowup’s.  You simply don’t have the time.

Short story writing can help your novel writing and even editing.  Because there is less to focus on it is easier to train your brain to be patient and make it through to the end.  For me the true benefit was figuring out my show vs. tell issues.  For some reason a shorter story will show your true weaknesses quicker and it’s probably because each word suddenly has more weight on it.

If you are struggling or need something to make you feel accomplishment, try putting down the novel and start a short story.  You can always turn it into a novel at a later time, but at least for now you are giving you mind a shorter plot to focus on.  The short story is an art of it’s own and will teach you so much about your writing.  At least if you are making a colossal mistake that no one has pointed out yet, it is a whole heck of a lot easier to find it and fix it in 20,000 words rather then 100,000.  What a stress free way to hone in a your craft.

What do you do when your going on burn out?


4 thoughts on “Switching Gears – Short Stories vs. the Novel

  1. Kiersi says:

    Totally agree! I also take breaks from noveling and write short stories instead, mostly to work on plotting and pacing. They build different but complimentary skill sets! 🙂 I also switch from drafting a new manuscript to revising an older one (or vice versa) when I feel “burned out.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s