Short Story Challenge – 10 Awesome Reasons For Writing Short Stories


I have been writing a lot of short stories lately and I have been having so much fun. So, I have decided to make it a year-long project. I am going to write one short story per month. Do you want to join me?

Why short stories?

Because they’re awesome, but also because:
  1. You can hone your craft: A short story is the perfect place to practise and to hone your craft. We all have strengths and weaknesses as writers. Some writers excel at dialogue, but suck at setting and description or their plots rock, but their characters are flat and predictable. A short story offers us the opportunity to improve our weaknesses and have fun with our strengths.
  2. There is less pressure: When we write novels, we need to keep our wits about us. We need 60 coherent scenes, in the correct order that shows us the story. With a short story there is less pressure.
  3. Your prompts can be published: Every writer needs to practise and a daily prompt is great, but when you turn that prompt into a short story you have something to enter, publish or stick up on the fridge. Prompts tend to remain in our notebooks; short stories become something you can use. Don’t stop with the prompts though. They help you find ideas.
  4. They give you a break: Writing a novel is as challenging as it is thrilling. There are times when the words flow and the story works, then there are times when they don’t. That is when you write a short story.
  5. The reduced word count makes you work hard: Novels have space, short stories don’t. If you over write, this is a great way to shorten and strengthen your writing. When you must count, and evaluate each word, it changes the way you write.
  6. They give you deadlines: There are hundreds, if not thousands of short story competitions. Use them to work towards your goals and deadlines.
  7. They are good for setting short-term goals: When we write novels, they can take months or even years. Short stories offer an opportunity to set short-term goals to keep us motivated and invigorated for the long-term goal achievement.
  8. You can deal with back-story: Writing short stories is a great way of getting to know your characters. Put them into a situation that you haven’t thought of before or that isn’t included in your book and see what they get up to. Or write that important event in their childhood that shaped them and changed their lives. You won’t necessarily use it, but it’s a great way to layer and explore character.
  9. You can experiment: This is my favourite part about writing short stories. If you always write in third person, try first or even second person. If you have never written fantasy, give it a go. If a scene from your novel isn’t working, change characters and write it as a short story from another character’s point of view.
  10. They allow you to brainstorm: Use a short story to explore a theme or an alternative ending to your scene or story. Change viewpoint, gender or genre. There are no rules. The short story is a brilliant tool. Use it.

I hope that I have convinced you that short stories are valuable. It would be awesome if you would like to join me for this adventure.

How it will work:

  1. I’ll be writing a series of posts about the craft of short story writing. These will be published once a week, on a Wednesday (mostly).
  2. On the second last Wednesday of every month I’ll post the next prompt and my short story in our Facebook group. That gives you roughly four weeks to write your story. Read our Submission Guidelines for the group.
  3. You will be welcome to share your story in the group, as well as comment on each other’s stories.
  4. The word counts will vary every month, but more about that next week.
  5. The goal is to have 12 short stories at the end of the year and a seriously improved skill set.

Please remember: This is not a competition. It’s about discipline, productivity and learning. Not all my stories will be great, but they will, at least be written.

The Prompt:

Our first prompt is: The List
Word count: 1500 words
Deadline: 15 February 2017 (Post yours in our Facebook group)

NOTE: Some competition rules state that stories must be ‘previously unpublished’. Don’t share your story if you do not want it published or if you are planning on using it for a competition.

Look out for my next post on short stories: What Exactly Is A Short Story?

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

This article has 28 comments

  1. Anthea Pretorius

    What a brilliant idea, Mia.

    Count me in!

    Anthea

  2. Sophia Bonnie Wodin

    Count me in. I have been struggling with short stories for about a year. I have drafts of two written and two others started. I would LOVE to hone these skills.

  3. Michael Reyneke

    Thank you, Mia. I accept the challenge.

  4. Mia

    Great, I can’t wait to get started. Happy writing everyone. I look forward to reading your story about The List.

  5. Mandy Toczek McPeake

    I’m in Mia

  6. Joseph Andrew Hesch

    Love writing stories, love prompts and love a challenge. I’m in.

  7. Deanna

    Yeah…would love to give it a go as have been struggling to write …can’t seem to get the words correct each time

  8. Deanna

    Yeah ..would love to improve my writing skills..tks

  9. Kelly Caufield

    Count me in!!

  10. Annalie

    I’m in – for the discipline

  11. Tom Mullane

    awesome idea, count me in. I love short stories but lack the discipline to be consistant

  12. Mia

    So glad to see so many eager writers. Holding thumbs for 12/12.

  13. Mia

    Welcome Elaine!

  14. Magnolia

    Im in!!!!

  15. RaeAnne

    YES !!! So excited for this opportunity !!!

  16. Marcena

    Do we sign up to get your posts to be in the short story challenge? I would like to participate. Love your blogs and tips!

  17. Thia Sawyer

    Great project for 2017.

  18. Elaine Dodge

    Hi Mia, where are we posting the stories? If everyone posts here won’t it get too huge a post?

  19. Mia

    Elaine, I am making a plan. Marcena, I’ll post new instructions as soon as I know what the plan is. Thanks for the great response!

  20. Benedicte Rousseau

    Great idea & great prompt! I’m in!

  21. Fatima

    Can I know where to post the short story?

  22. Donna

    I tried to join on Facebook but it said it’s a closed group? I clicked the request does that go to you? I love writing short stories!!! Can’t wait!!

  23. Donna

    One more thing..besides saying I’m in too..I’m from the United States..Atlanta, Georgia…we would love to have all classes online for everything…just wanted to share..I’m sure everyone from S.Africa is sleeping or already starting their Wednesday 25 Jan..it’s 12:49 am right now… Thanks

  24. Mia

    Hi Donna. The request does go to me. I will be adding all the members. And the online courses will be happening soon. Happy writing.

  25. Elaine Dodge

    Is there a FB page for these short stories? Where are we posting them? Has the challenge actually begun or are we waiting for somewhere to post them?

  26. Writers Write

    Hello Elaine

    Please have a look at today’s post for details: https://writerswrite.co.za//12-short-stories-in-12-months-submission-guidelines

  27. Mia

    Hi, the page is up on Facebook for everyone who still wants to join the group for ’12 Short Stories in 12 Months’. You will find the link here: https://writerswrite.co.za//12-short-stories-in-12-months-submission-guidelines

    Thanks!

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