This week, I happened upon this blurb: "Write short stories. Fail faster." Hmm, interesting. But then- nah, I'm not really into short stories. But what does that mean? I'm working on a novel, forget it. Wait- I like doing things faster. Don't like to fail. But-- Stories? Love 'em. Short? Less commitment. Maybe there's something to this, but not for me. Or is there?
While I pondered this for a couple of days, I realized there is a lot I still don't know about my characters. So I listed all of them, marked the ones who were minor characters, then wrote a question I had about their past life. The entire page swarmed of short stories begging to be written. One character told me something interesting about his past, which I transcribed in one evening. . . *I know non-writers think it weird when writers talk this way, but there really isn't a better way to describe it* After this, I was intrigued. I was hooked. I found the source of the blurb and bought the book in order to learn more about the craft of writing the short story.
I began to have this thought that just maybe, by writing the characters' stories, it could improve my novel. Of course, it would give me an amazing amount of writing practice. Just possibly, I could then share them with readers- if that time becomes right. How fun would it be to get a glimpse of these guys, then come across them in a novel and realize that you know why they just did what they did-- even if the other characters don't.
It's also possible these stories won't be seen until after the novel. I liked the premise of "Fail Faster" because it's true-- it does feel pretty good to get a piece of writing finished and shined to a polish. The failing part just means that it's out there, floundering on its own, and has a good chance of rejection. But, something learned now can mean more success later.
By the way, did I mention that I love my characters? I'm having so much fun figuring out what happened to them before they came to be in my story. I hope I get to introduce them to you very soon.
What about you? Do you have any thoughts on short stories? Do you read or write them? What do you like/not like about them?