A Character’s “Normal” World
The first book in the new series of devotionals for fiction lovers, 21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love, released this month. I thought my readers might like to know more about the authors who contributed short stories to the book. This week’s guest is Lori Freeland.
How is writing a short story different from writing a novel? How are they similar?
When you’re writing a short story, you have to jump in without being able to set up your character’s “normal” world the way you can in a novel. Every word counts. In a novel, you have to introduce the players, the mood, the tone, the setting, and the issues at the beginning. But in a short story, you get far fewer words to hook the reader in and then work through and resolve the problem. There isn’t any room for side characters or secondary storylines.
What do you enjoy about writing short stories? What are the challenges?
I like writing short stories because I get a sense of completion without having to write 80,000-plus words. Short stories are challenging because it’s more difficult to fully develop a character and a story when your words are limited. I’m an emotional writer and my stories are character driven, so I have to pick and choose what I put in. I always overwrite. Going back to cut is hard.
What are the benefits of getting a short story published?
Novels take forever to pitch and sell and release. It’s fun to write a short story, be done, and hold the work in your hand in a matter of weeks or months. And being part of a larger work with many talented authors is exciting.
Have you ever published a short story other than through this fiction-lover’s devotional series? If so, where? And what was that experience like?
In addition to 21 Days of Grace, I have been in two anthologies. The first, The Plight before Christmas, was a compilation of Christmas stories put together by Frank Ball. The second, Wild at Heart II, was a book of young-adult stories done with the Romance Writers of America to benefit a wildlife park in Arkansas. Both experiences were amazing. I got to do a multi-author signing in Arkansas with the second anthology. So much fun.
Is there an author who inspires you, and why?
I read a lot of genres and a lot of authors. Too many to mention. But two of my favorite inspirational authors are Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers. They tell amazing stories and have both had pretty cool careers.
What is the best advice on writing you ever received?
The best advice I ever received was don’t quit. That advice has taken me through a lot of years of struggling with my value as a writer.
What one piece of advice would you share with aspiring writers?
If being a writer is something you really want to do, don’t give up your dream. There are many paths to getting published. No one’s journey is the same. And that’s okay. We all have our own personal story to share.
Lori Freeland is a writing teacher and coach for the North Texas Christian Writers and a contributor to Crosswalk.com and Believe.com. She’s addicted to flavored coffee and imaginary people. When she’s not writing inspirational articles, she’s working on several young-adult novels. Visit her website, lafreeland.com, or look for L. A. Freeland on Facebook.