We all have our favorite genres. We also have our favorite types of writing. If you’re here, you’re probably trying to write a book. That’s a great project! But it won’t be your last. And it’s a very, very big project. Fortunately, there are some other projects to fill the gap between novels while sharpening your pen.
Flash fiction is the essential oil of the writing world. It boils down full stories into a handful of sentences that express the characters, setting, and plot. On top of all this, the language must grip the reader or lose them in just a few words. Anyone trying to hone their sentences and refocus after a long project can learn a lot with flash fiction practice.
Many of today’s popular authors got started in the wonderful world of fan fiction. It’s a great option for writers to practice new styles, work with different kinds of characters, and get unbiased feedback from strangers. Do you struggle to keep your villain in-character, or do your side kicks seem to change into different people depending on the hero’s needs?
Working with established characters written by someone else gives you a little less personal investment in making the character “great,” and you can focus on keeping the character – well – that character. Fan fiction is also a very open field to experimentation. Besides, it’s just plain fun and has much lower stakes than a piece you’re trying to publish.
Short stories hit a happy medium between flash fiction and novels. Writers must express a lot in a relatively short space, but short stories have a lot in common with pivotal scenes in novels. If you want to improve your novel-craft, stopping for some shorts may bring better focus to your story’s critical moments. Identify a few tipping-point scenes and try writing them as short stories. You can also write shorts about background stories that you want but know you shouldn’t include in a book.
The sky is the limit. Rehash something old or try something new. A lot of great novels grew from excellent short stories. If you have a plot bunny running around that you aren’t sure what to do with, try weaving it into a short story and see what happens. Even if it doesn’t pan out into something novel-ready, at least you have a short story to show for it!
Script-writing demands writers shift their perspective. Visualization becomes key, but so does exact accuracy and dialogue. The words on the page should instruct a director making a movie, meaning you’re speaking as much to another creative as to the final audience. It’s a tough job that demands you strip your story of its skin and try to fingerprint the bones on the page. It’s also a fantastic writing exercise.
Which of these have you written before? Which would you consider trying? Make sure to share your tips below and offer suggestions for other writers!