I recently finished the ending of the first draft of a story. I thought I knew exactly how I wanted the tale to end… but something kept me from actually sealing the deal for real. After waffling back and forth for a while, I realized that the finality of cementing in the fates of my characters bothered me. Now, that might sound silly, but it was the case for me. Right and correct? No, of course not! But the procrastination felt incredibly valid at the time.
While dancing around the finishing touches of the abovementioned novel, I turned my attention to something one of my beta readers shared with me as a side project he enjoyed doing: short stories. In the back of my mind, I’ve always viewed short stories as the… ehh, less significant baby sibling of full length novels. It doesn’t mean that I’ve never read, written, or enjoyed a short story, but I never really truly devoted any time to them. I’m really glad I decided to break that mindset, because I’ve found short stories to be more than entertaining. I’ve found them to be useful!
I ended up writing a short story based on a narrative that I’d never intended on giving a full length novel to. It can be viewed here for the curious, but it was awesome to be able to turn my mind away from the stress of the main novel I was working on at the time. Better yet, it gave me an interesting insight; stories can end in a myriad of ways, but that doesn’t mean that the one you decide upon has to be the ultimate, most perfect way of wrapping up the tale. So long as you remain true to your characters and to the plot itself, I think it’s fine to release yourself from some of the constraints you may be forcing yourself to adhere to out of fear you’ll alienate your audience.
To wrap this up, I want to encourage other writers and readers alike to give short stories a try. You may be pleasantly surprised if you do!