Why Short Stories Are Hard to Write (For Me)

I love short stories. I love how concise they are. I love how you can just enjoy them in an afternoon. They are easy to recommend them to a friend because it’s not a time suck. If they don’t like the story it didn’t take long and they weren’t that invested.

But I find them absurdly hard to write. I have tried to write short stories for warm ups, but ever since I was a kid and got a C on a short story because I took too long writing it, I have struggled with the novella, the short story, the quick tale.

And I have a feeling I’m not the only one. My problems tend to fall into the same categories every time.

Too big of a plot

The stories I write end up getting wildly out of hand. I make a plot far too big for a short story and then have no idea how I can shorten any of it.

Too much exposition

I tend to create a lot of backstory and then try to shove all of it into a short little story. I tend to shove a lot of it in longer stories as well which is something I’m working on.

Too many characters

I will fill a story with more characters than necessary. This goes hand in hand with a plot too big for a few thousand words.

I still am not the best at writing short stories, but I have found a few ways to help my main issues.

Take a scene

Make your entire story in a scene. This will help prevent having a plot that’s just too much. You can always grow from that one scene but it’s easier to stay in the short story format growing from a smaller idea than trying to trim down a bigger idea.

Randomize your background

Roll a dice, use a picker program, make a d&d sheet and give yourself a short amount of time to create a backstory. The backstory is meant to help fuel a story not overrun and set the whole thing ablaze. Force yourself to get into the story and not spend time writing a background for each character.

Limit characters

Pick two main characters. Make the conflict about them. Then grow. Once again it’s easier to grow a short story than it is to trim a novel into a short story. This also helps you be a bit more creative with an idea. You are limiting yourself in one way and allowing yourself to be creative in another.

I hope you found this an interesting read. I look forward to learning about your issues and your solutions to your own writing. Do you write short stories? Do you find them easier than novels? Let me know in the comments below.

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