Saturday Starter: Short Story as Exploration

Saturday, Apr 29, 2017

This weeks starter comes directly from one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses. Each week several writers talk about one aspect of craft. From point of view, to pacing, to developing style these writers spend fifteen minutes, sometimes with a guest, offering instruction and sharing their approaches. And the best part is they end each episode with an assignment based on the lesson.

Season 12, episode 8 is hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells and Howard Taylor. Their guest, Tananarive Due, offers short story writing as a way to explore things you want to practice. While you can write short form for publication, this shouldn't necessarily be your goal. Short stories simply allow you to fail and discover who you are as a writer without devoting twelve months to a project. If your identity as a writer is tied to one huge project, and that project doesn't take off, it may mark the end of your writing career.

Taylor, a graphic novelist, compares writing in short form to his use of a sketchbook. He might share his sketchbook, but it's not meant to be the final product and he uses it to develop larger projects.

I hope you'll listen to the entire podcast, but I'll share the assignment Tananarive Due gives.

Take something larger that you’ve written and find a short story in it. Write that story.

As they say at the end of each episode, "You're out of excuses, now go write."