Short Stories? Epic Novels? Can One Person Write Both?

By on February 27, 2014 . Category Book Genres

A lot of writers struggle with the idea of writing stories that aren’t the length they’re accustomed to. Either they usually write long, detailed stories that take up hundreds of pages, and can’t fathom cutting it down so much… or they write quick, short stories and have no idea how to expand.

So if you want to jump ship—or just play around with a new format— then knowing where to start can help you create what you’re dreaming of… and add a new skillset to your arsenal!


Going from Long Stories to Short Stories

Shortening your epic tales to something that’s only a few thousand words long can seem daunting.  How can you pack all that emotion, excitement, and information into such a short piece??

It’s actually not as impossible as it sounds.

Try this:  Write your short story like a chapter (or two) of a longer piece.  You can even write out the outside details that aren’t really part of the story, but help you sort things out.

Then, simply read through what you have, and fill in any gaps, holes, or missing bits of information.  It will take some practice, but if you think of them as chapters of a larger piece, it will help get you in the mindset of writing a short story!  And who knows…maybe someday it will be a chapter in a longer work!


Going from Short Stories to Long Stories

Another huge leap is going from writing primarily short stories to longer works with more complex plots.

The technique here is actually very similar to the “long to short” swap:  Just treat it, in this case, like you’re writing a bunch of short stories!

Look at each chapter as a mini-story.  You can even rotate which characters’ perspectives you use each chapter, so it feels more like a stand-alone story.  Jump around in the story (once you have it all planned out, of course)—there’s no rule that says you have to write the story in order, so write the scenes you want, write whole little stories within the bigger story, then bridge them together with the necessary scenes when you edit.


Ultimately, it’s just important for you to remember that writing is writing, and if you can do it in one format, you can pretty easily transition to another format.  Have fun with it, play with it, and remember not to take it too seriously.  Taking things (or yourself) too seriously is a recipe for stress and unfulfilling work, but relaxing and having fun with it opens you up to all kinds of possibilities!


What’s the longest story you’ve ever written?  The shortest?  Which kind of fiction do you find more challenging—long pieces or short pieces?  Tell us in the comments!


  • jesse abundis

    I always saw writing a short story as such. Write like a long two chapters in case you want to come back down the road to revisit. And this will surely help the author in wanting to scale down the bigger novel, to a SS. Great article, had to retweet it back to everyone.

    • Eve Jacob

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

      I’ve always struggled with shorter fiction, while being fully aware that the ability to say things succinctly is an art and a skill (thus feeling CHALLENGED by my inability to shorten my work, haha). It’s taken practice but I’m at least more comfortable (if not skilled) at it! :)

      Also–high-five for the nine-month delayed reply, huh?

  • raghad mahmoud

    short stories are a lot harder

    • Eve Jacob

      They are tough, aren’t they? You have so little space to work with.

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