I decided to start writing short stories for two reasons. One, I did not think I had an idea I could flesh out to novel length. Two, I was not confident that I could, or was good enough to, write a novel. (I decided to write picture books because of my daughters.) That may signify a lack of confidence or motivation on my part. Probably both are true, but I am gaining confidence and motivation. I’ve read several books on the art of writing science fiction, and I joined a writers group. Both have helped, and I’ll write more on both in other posts.
I also created an informal critic group for my work. I would consider it formal if everyone in the group were writers, and knew about each other, and all could submit work for critique. As it stands now, none of that is true.
One member is my very understanding wife, who also is serving as my copy editor. Another is my sister, whose interests are remarkably like my own. Yet another is a good friend, who last year I discovered was in the process of writing her own sci-fi novel (which I hope to critique). I met the last member in the writers group mentioned above. Her writing interests appear to overlap my own. Plus she is the author of several self-published books. Given my reluctance to start my own novel, that experience alone is valuable.
At first, I simply wanted to share my work with someone rather than letting it collect dust, unread on my hard drive. That’s when I recruited family. Then, when my wife and sister provided insightful feedback on a couple of stories, I knew I needed those critiques to become a better writer. (My sister actually lead me to an idea that solved a major issue in the story I had worked on the longest.)
That’s when I started recruiting fellow writers, either beginner or established. As I make connections in this field, I hope to expand my critique group. Everyone brings a different perspective, and I never want to overburden any one person, which I feel could happen when producing short stories fairly frequently. At the same time, I am finding it extremely useful to bounce ideas off people who have not stared at the same paragraph for a week trying to figure out what happens next.