I’ve been guilty of this because I’m a novelist. I’ve put too much emphasis on the novel.
I happily write novellas, but the idea of writing anything shorter never came naturally to me. Simple thoughts and beautiful accounts have flourished in my head, but they were all “too short.” Despite how often I dwelled on powerful events or daydreamed about how two lovers met, I struggled to find a valid reason to put them on paper.
I’d set these ideas aside, fully intent on making them scenes in a novel-length manuscript, but only recently did I realize my error—I was putting novel expectations on a story that was never meant to be longer than a few pages.
I’d only considered these images as random, irrelevant snippets of a brilliant story, but… these snippets were the brilliant story. They didn’t belong to a larger work. They were the work.
I completely dropped the ball in realizing the novel I was trying to fluff this idea into was happier as a short story.
Instead of stressing over how to make the novel satisfying, or putting the idea on a backburner until more comes to me, I now write the story as it wishes to be written, knowing that I can either add to it later, or take away from it during editing.
Hear me, dear novelist, if an idea comes to you that seems “too short” or inadequate, then accept it as a short story and write that perfect piece of flash fiction.
Hear me, dear short series veteran, if your work in progress wishes to drag across the pages, then let it and see where it goes—your delete button works (trust me, I tried it while you weren’t looking).
Very little is more freeing as authors when we remind ourselves that we don’t have to make an idea fit the word count we’re used to. Don’t compare the value of your short story with your expectations of a novel. 3 pages or 333 pages, they both are equally valid and worthy of being written.
So, write it.