Write What You Want

Hi guys! I've got something on my mind, so I thought I'd share.

See, my friend Beau is pretty gifted with short stories. He's written a few for various blogs, and even has one published in a literary anthology. I'm not lying, he's good. He also has this AWESOME concept for a YA Fantasy novel that I have been encouraging him to write for FOREVER. And I think I finally convinced him to finish it this year.

Tonight, on Twitter, he was lamenting his predictions that his ability to slam dunk a short story won't translate well into an 85K word novel. And that got me thinking.

In one of his online lectures, Brandon Sanderson recommended writing what you want to write in the long run. That means if you want to write novels, learn how to write a novel. And spend ALL your writing energy on THAT. If you want to write short stories, then write LOTS of short stories, and learn what makes a good one.

The moral of this story is: Don't learn one form and then expect to be able to jump right into the other. You won't be able to.

Short stories take less time. Because of that, it's easy to feel like you're making a lot of progress when you finish a story a week. But if you want to write novels, finishing one short story a week won't help you.

Now, it's absolutely possible to do both. Mary Robinette Kowal is the one I'm most familiar with, who writes both novels and short fiction. I'm certain there are many more. But the key to doing both, is studying both and finding the key differences.

I write short stories for fun. Between novels/revisions, or when I'm bored and have a cool idea I think might work. But even the ones I've submitted tend to have bigger stories behind them, and would usually, maybe, do better in a longer form. A novella, or even a novel. I don't really know, because I haven't tried to expand any of them yet, but it's on my list of things to do.

All this is to say, you can write whatever you want to write. Go where your passion tells you to go. Just remember that each form and genre and category has rules, and you have to know the rules before you're allowed to try breaking them.

Have fun writing :)


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