There are a great many rewards for the writer in choosing the short story form. It is a practical option, which may be fitted into the schedule of those of us (most of us) who have to earn a living. There’s also the advantage offered by the limitations of length. You aren’t committing years of your life to a short story, which, with the novel, you often are. The variety of writing short stories may appeal to you, too, as it did to Henry James: ‘I want to leave a multitude of pictures of my time, projecting my small circular frame upon as many different spots as possible.’1 It’s certainly the case that most writers find it difficult to begin their fiction writing lives with a novel, and working with a shorter form is a helpful way of learning your craft. This is not to say that the only purpose or virtue of writing short stories is as a staging post on your journey to becoming a novelist. Far from it. If anything, the short story is a more difficult form than the novel, as William Faulkner, for example, thought. But it is the case that learning fiction writers, certainly in university programmes, begin by practising the short story.
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