The main benefit of writing short stories before writing a novel is to identify and learn how to fix problems with our writing style and voice. And every writer has them.
Here are some other benefits:
- Short story experience will help us edit and polish our longer works more effectively, before sending them off to a professional editor.
- A novel’s chapters are often like short stories, with a beginning hook, page-turning middle, and satisfying end. So short story experience will help us in deciding chapter breaks, as well as starting chapters with more punch and ending them with more flare.
- Short stories about characters in our novel will help us understand their backstory and then we can write, rewrite, and edit them more convincingly. (I wrote a couple of short stories about a sidekick in my novel, and she’s the one my beta readers most connect with.)
- We can use short stories as a lead magnet to build our mailing list and to share with fans between novels. And this is even more compelling if the short stories are about our novel’s characters.
- We can submit a short story to an anthology, which will give us a writing credit prior to publishing our novel.
- Short stories give us an opportunity to experiment and try new things.
For those who write nonfiction, the same rationale applies to writing articles, blog posts, editorials, and so forth. In both cases, the goal is to start small and work up to longer pieces.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.