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Short Stories vs. Longer Works

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Anonymous asked: I wrote a short story a couple of weeks ago that I think really stands well on its own, but I normally stick with longer, more involved stories and as such, I've come up with a way that this story could continue but I'm afraid if I continue it, I'll destroy the simplicity that made the original version enjoyable. So is there a way to convince myself to drop the excess, or should I write it anyway and determine which I like better?

It sounds like you know the answer, anon. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a simple, yet profound, short story.  It seems to us like you’re proud of what you’ve created.  And you should be!  Telling a fully realized story in only a few words is hard.  So good on you for doing that!   So if you want to keep it simple and short, do it.  Don’t second guess yourself and don’t force it. 

Both of us have written things where we could think of other aspects of the universe we could explore and, between you and me, sometimes it’s fun to talk about where we could go or what could happen next.  And there’s nothing stopping you from dreaming of things to come… or if the urge really strikes you writing more.

I’m going to cite a real life well known author now.  Anne McCaffrey was known in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s for writing short stories.  Many of them ended up in a book called “Get Off the Unicorn.”   In the compilation of short stories are the following which ended up being a part of a larger series… a sequel/epilogue of sorts for “The Ship Who Sang,” a short story that would later go on to become “The Rowan,” another short story in the same universe that would later go on to become “Damia” which was written 10 years later, a short story that would later on go to become “Freedom’s Landing,”  while yet another made it into “To Ride Pegasus.”  There’s nothing saying that a few months or even years down the line you can’t go back and revisit that story and see if the urge to expand on it is still there. 

But your writer’s instinct is telling you that what you’ve written is complete.  Listen to your gut.   It rarely will steer you wrong. 

- Lark and Rose

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