Short Story (noun): 1. An invented prose narrative, shorter than a novel, usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot. —Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary
I love short stories. They are typically under 10,000 words and give you a freedom to create any type of story imaginable. With a short story, a lot of the conventions of a typical novel can be thrown out the window. That makes it incredibly fun and incredibly difficult. Just like any writing, a short story starts with a simple or complex idea, character, or setting. From there, you have the opportunity to let your imagination take you for a ride.
Recently, I decided that I wanted to write a short story about a Fetch. A Fetch is a creature from Fae/Faery mythology. Fae love to kidnap human children but they also don’t enjoy drawing attention to themselves. So when your child is kidnapped by a Fae, a Fetch is left in his/her place. A Fetch is made from the shadow or blood of the human child so that it can easily take the place of the child and even be raised as a human.
The notion of the Fetch was the only piece of my short story that I had figured out. I had no idea how my story would form or what it would look like, but when you only have 10,000 words, that’s actually okay. Unlike a novel, where I might try to outline or at least figure out the key plot points before I start writing, with my short, I took the basic concept, typed out the first sentence, and then kept typing.
How I wrote my short story might not work for everyone, but it’s a fun example of what can happen with a short story. You don’t need to have everything figured out in order to create a coherent short story. You can actually figure it out as you go. This freedom lets your imagination run wild, which is great, especially if you’re struggling writing a longer novella or even novel.
Writing a short story a week or even a month, can help get the juices flowing and reignite your creativity. Give it a shot. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.