When I wrote my first novel, If You Could Read My Mind, I didn't think twice about short stories. I wanted to write novels!
Almost immediately, I began writing Mama Told Me Not To Come. When I completed that one, I still had just enough...whatever you want to call it...for a short story, just to serve as an introduction to the "grunts" - the uniformed Justice Security folks. So, Someone Saved My Life Tonight was born, and I had done it! I had written a short story, kept it within the Justice Security world, and told a story...all within just a few pages, topping out at approximately 5600 words.
That was in 2010. Although I could have, and should have, I didn't try another short story until this year, with The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. I did that for three reasons - 1) I had begun a novel outside of the world occupied by Nicholas Turner and Justice Security, and I wanted to keep trying things outside of that sphere, and 2) I wanted to write in a different area than action/adventure/mystery/suspense. I have since written Gold and Hot Child In The City, and I'm now in the process of writing two other short stories, one of which features the Justice Security partners. That story begins with a bullet whipping past Louie's head. It should top out at around 5000 words or so.
It's as though The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald opened a floodgate for me. I now have more ideas for short stories than I've ever had before, and I find it very, very encouraging personally.
This can apply to your writing as well. If you have an idea for a story, and you don't feel like there's enough there for a book, then, by all means, make it a short story! There are still numerous publications that accept short fiction stories, among them is The New Yorker, Harper's, Cemetery Dance, Clarkesworld, and Nightmare, just to name a few. Some are traditional print publications, and some are online publications. And, if you feel that you just can't wait, or just want to throw a story out there and let it find its own audience, publish it at Amazon.com as a Kindle short story!
Writers have so many more publishing options available to them now, it's incredible. It's so much better than even ten years ago, because you are no longer limited by traditional publishers.
So, you know that little idea in the back of your mind? The one that keeps nagging at you to put down on paper? Get off of the Internet, open up your computer's word processor, and type that first sentence. It only gets easier from there!
Oh, and another thing: Pick up a book, and read the darn thing, wouldja?
Michael (T. M.)