I find it amazing that so many people fall in love with writings of specific length and never try to write shorter or longer works. My experience is that most people like to write longer works. The explanation is often that they need space to work out the story. It is true that some pieces need to be lengthy in order for them to properly work out the way they were intended. However, addiction to longer novels may damage a person’s ability to produce other types of works. Writers should try to get away from them at least some of the times.

The advantage to a lengthy novel is that a lot can be fitted into it. It can carry great many characters described in minute details. The storyline can be elaborate and complex with many twists and turns. The colourful portrayal of the surrounding can make that surrounding come alive in front of the reader’s eyes. Despite the advantages, though, people should learn to produce shorter works. Shorter writings are crucial to the development of a writer. Learning to write a short piece forces the person to focus on what is truly important to be included in that piece. I learned the importance of this skill at university. Building a philosophical argument with word limitation meant that I had to pick and choose wisely the information that I needed to include to make the argument work and be efficient at the same time. The word limit makes the person think long and hard about what is absolutely essential; it shows the person the backbone of the piece without which it cannot function. The ability to summarize aids the person in maintaining the logic of the writing, so that the person does not get lost in the details or lose sight of the direction. Basically, it is an important exercise.

I advise all writers to try to write shorter pieces, such as a short story. The advantage to it is that there are many short story competitions one can participate in. Entering the words “short story contest” or ” short story competition” into google produces nearly all websites where one can enter into a short story contest. I entered three contests in the past four months: 1) 2014 Canadian Tales of the Mysterious Short Story Competition by Red Tuque Books, 2) Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition by Writer’s Digest and, 3) CBC Short Story Prize by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. All in all, it is worth learning to write works of all lengths. So, go ahead and try it!

M. J.

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