Last week I talked about my Short Story December. Currently, I’m working on my fifth short story for the month. It’s all a part of my end-of-the-year treat and an enjoyable change of pace. After completing a novel in November, it’s satisfying to complete a story once every few days.
I also mentioned last week that the vast majority of my short stories are fantasy, but this week I want to dive into that a little deeper.
Ontyre is a world of a million fantasy stories. From that standpoint, I have a long way to go before I run out of ideas, and it’s all because of how perceive the world building I established so very long ago and continue to add to. Between the magic, technology, history, endless locations, and, most important, the issues I’d like to touch on, there’s no lack of triggers to generate stories.
Believe me, I use all of that.
Over the last few years I’ve written a story that takes place on a stagecoach, one about a woman who couldn’t have children because of her gift (magic), another about the first engine built in Pannulus, and this month about a woman living at an isolated lighthouse who’s doomed to live with the thing that lives beneath…
Because I set all my stories in the same world the world building is already in place. In some cases I add an element or two to the world building and explore that in the short story, but it has to be consistent with what already exists.
What are the benefits to short stories beyond the frequent satisfaction that comes from finishing them or the writing practice they provide? Oh, there’s a lot:
• Since I write in Deep 3rd POV I have the opportunity to dabble in many different character voices. It’s fun to experiment and there’s little risk when the investment is two to three days, or even less.
• It provides a place for ideas that aren’t worthy of a novel. After all, I have limited time available for novel writing. I’m productive, but there’s no way I could write thirty-one novels in a few years, but that’s how many Ontyre short stories I’ve written in that span (plus there are non-Ontyre short stories).
• It’s my way to explore ideas that could become novels. I’ve toyed with a detective series set in Pannulus, but don’t want to commit right now because of other obligations. Instead, I’ve written some mini mysteries.
• Speaking of exploration … there’s nothing like writing about a world building aspect to learn more about it. For instance, how engines work with Ontyre’s magic, what life is like in Raspell, or what’s the greatest cause of crime in Pannulus.
• If I become tired of a particular time period I can move back or ahead in time. A good example on the website is the difference between Gryphon Gray (distant past) and Taking Flight (more modern).
Short stories are about more than tiny tales to send to a publication or to collect in an anthology, although those are huge reasons to write them. On the way, though, there are countless benefits that shouldn’t be dismissed. To me, they’re a win-win.