What a great question, and one may writers struggle to answer in their writing journey. The best part about this question is there is no wrong answer. And yet, a writer often feels like the whole world hinges on that one important question… Should I write a novel or a short story?
The simple answer is… it depends.
It depends on the subject matter, how long you really think it will tell the best story, and how much staying power you have. Let’s face it, writing a novel is not easy. Many people have tried and failed. And many people have succeeded and wished they’d just wrote a freaking short story.
People often choose to write short stories, because it is easier. It doesn’t take as long of a commitment and you see faster results. In the terms of time and effort a short story certainly seems much more sexy, more appealing. And short stories can be a lot of fun too, especially when you get on a roll of kicking out three or four a month.
Then why do people choose to write novels? Well, some just like the challenge, others have such big stories they couldn’t possibly be told in even a series of short stories, and others do it because it’s a dream that must be reached no matter what.
As a slush reader, I see soooooo many short stories that should have been made into novels. I wish that people would take the plunge and try a novel, even a short one would do. Don’t forget there are novelettes (about 15,000 to 20,000 words) and novellas (about 50,000 words) out there too! But whether it’s a lack of commitment or simply the lack of experience to see that a story should be more than what it is, some people just don’t think that big.
And then you have people like me who think too big. Because apparently one novel is too small for my vision. It’s going to take six or more books to get my story out my head and onto paper. Yikes!
No matter the choice, just make sure it’s a good story and that you’ve done it the true justice the story and characters deserve. Don’t wonder “what if” or “maybe I would have done that instead”. Try different ways and see what works best. Don’t be afraid to experiment or even change your mind.
Here are some great articles on why to try short stories before novels…
And here’s some reasons why you should write a novel instead of short stories…
Or here’s my personal favorite article saying… it depends…
Basically I think it boils down to what kind of writer you want to be. I know people who only write short stories and those who write only novels, and some who do both.
Me. I’ve tried both and I find I spend a of time trying to get my head in the right place to switch between writing on my novel or one of the many short stories I have in progress (and yes it takes a different mindset to write on a novel verses a short story). But ultimately I find most of my story ideas are more suited to novel length.
So are you a novelist, short story writer, or are you both? And why? Feel free to share in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!