I believe short stories serve a multitude of purposes. They can be, for some, like the training wheels on our bikes. They are a great way to introduce new worlds to readers to test the waters for interest in that area. My short stories came after the novels. It’s been a blast learning the differences in writing techniques needed. In short stories, the author has to be as concise as possible. There is no room to include excess imagery or subplots. You may not have all the Turning Points of a full-length novel, but you still have to get the point of the story across. Think: tight quarters!
Before I wrote the first three books in the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services series, I had written short stories only in college. They were requirements for courses, so I wrote them. After writing the IMS books, however, I decided I wanted to expand on some of the backstory of the aliens in my books. The backstory stuff I hadn’t wanted to dump on readers became fodder for short stories.
Since I couldn’t very well go back and add it to the books already on the market, I mapped out a series of four short stories, Tales from the Nordonians. Fans had been asking me for more information on the aliens, so what better opportunity. Each short story offers me the chance to do a bit of research (which I enjoy). Example: The Professor’s Tale—which explains why the Nordonians speak with a Gaelic accent—afforded me the chance to research the Blitz of London. I got “lost” online for hours reading about the different types of bombs; viewing maps of 1940s London; reading old newspapers articles about the bombing, etc.
Since that first story in the Tales from the Nordonians, I have published Marko’s Tale. It covers Marko’s time with his first soul mate (yep, I believe you can have more than one!), her loss, and the attack on their home world. This was stuff I mentioned or hinted at in the IMS series, but didn’t want to “dump” into those stories.
More recently, I found myself writing a short story for a contest. It had to be original (brand new) and less than 1,000 words. Talk about tight quarters. I decided to step away from the Sci-Fi/Romance that I’ve been writing. I found myself going completely off the outline. When I came back to myself, for lack of a better phrase, I had the required number of words telling the story of how I discovered just how rocky my marriage was.
The biggest surprise to me was how cathartic it was for such a short piece. That short story helped me pull out emotions that needed to see the light of day, deal with them constructively, and then release them. I was amazed that it took only a small number of words to begin to heal such a painful wound.
How about you? Have you ever written a short story? If so, did it “speak” to a part of you unexpectedly? If so, I would love to hear about it.
Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It’s taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be “when she grows up,” but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it’s never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult. Ava can be found online at her website http://avalouise.net/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ava.louise.35. Her books are also available at Amazon.com.