short stories

Short stories are NOT good practice for writing novels

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I’ve heard that a lot of people who want to write a novel think that they should write short stories first as “practice” before diving in and writing a full-length novel.

There’s a major flaw with that plan. Writing short stories is very different to writing a novel.

The structure is different. This means that if you write a few short stories first, you will have practiced writing short stories. Sure, it’s practice at writing – sentence structure, prose, descriptions, action, and dialogue – but maybe diving in and writing the full-length novel that’s been in your head for so long might be the answer for you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write the short stories if that’s what you want to do. I’m just saying that it might not be the best thing for you. You’d have to weigh up your options. Everyone’s situation is different. With me, I dove in and wrote a full-length book. I have recently written a short story of seven chapters, followed by a really short story of only a few pages, but I enjoyed writing them and I’ve had some great feedback on them. They are the stories I’ve uploaded to Wattpad. For more info on Wattpad, click here to see my previous post about it.

Again, my advice is to do what you think is right for you. Don’t let anyone dictate to you. They don’t know what’s in your head or your heart and they don’t know what works for you and your situation. You may not know that either just yet, but you will.

What about you guys? Have you written a full-length novel? A short story or two? Both? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.


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Naming your chapters – my opinion

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I’d like to give my opinion of giving your chapters names. I don’t think it’s wrong and that you should never do it, but I won’t do it in a full-length novel. And I’ll tell you a few reasons why.

Firstly, it is difficult to do well and takes a lot of time and effort. Secondly, if you don’t create good names, they’re going to sound awful or cheesy. Thirdly – and this is my main reason – they can act as a spoiler. I’ve had chapter names spoil what’s ahead for me so many times that I actually try not to read them. But I can’t help it. I have to read everything. It’s the way I am.

It’s distracting for me too. While I’m reading the novel, I start to wonder why the chapter has that name and how it relates to the story. I start thinking about what it could mean for the protagonist and sit and stew about it if the chapter name is a spoiler. Then I have to read the page I was just reading all over again because I wasn’t concentrating.

My advice is not to name your chapters. Do it for me.

Now, if you’ve been to and read my two short stories, you’ll probably be thinking that I’m crazy. One of my stories – The Alien – has named chapters. The main reason for me doing this is that everyone else seemed to be doing it and since the stories on Wattpad are uploaded one chapter at a time and read over a long period of time by the readers, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to help people keep track of what they’d read. The Alien was only seven chapters long and I tried not to give too much away with the names.

So I’ll say it again. I won’t ever name the chapters in a full-length novel. It’s not really needed in books meant for adults and teens.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Let me know in the comments.


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