Sam Knight News

Short Stories: Good for the Novelist, Good for the Career, Good for the Soul

This year I did a panel at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, along with Fleur Bradley, Shannon Lawrence, and Stant Litore, titled Short Stories: Good for the Novelist, Good for the Career, Good for the Soul. The panel went by too quickly and we all but ran out of time singing out praise and reasons for writing short stories. I had several people come up and ask questions afterwards, so I thought I would put up some of the things we went over on the panel. I hope it gives you some nourishing food for thought. Short stories are an oft-overlooked gateway to many advantageous things in a writer’s career. Here are some good reasons to consider writing, and maybe even publishing, some short stories: If you can’t finish a short story, what makes you think you can finish a novel? Seriously. You have an epic decalogy planned but you think you can’t handle a measly two to eight thousand word short story? Think about that for a moment. And just what exactly is a chapter in a novel? It’s a short story. Or it should be. Each chapter needs to have its own smaller story arc to keep the momentum of the story moving forward. This translates into the need for a hook, a conflict, and a resolution. The only real difference is that at the end of a chapter, something should happen that keeps the story moving forward instead of resolving and ending the story. (Until the last chapter, of course!) Writing short stories can be good practice for controlling the pacing of the chapters in your novel. Outlining short stories can be good practice for outlining your multi-generational epic space opera. Editing short stories is just good practice for any writing you do. Limiting the space you have in which to tell the story can help you learn to condense a story and avoid being unnecessarily verbose in your novel, such as finding ways to make sure you’ve described a scene without over-describing it, or learning how to include a “message” or a “moral” in the story without having the moral be the story. It can also help to increase your focus on dialog and characterization and help you learn to take advantage of preconceived and even stereotypical notions to surprise readers. You can use short stories to explore ideas that you think might make a good novel. Perhaps you’ll realize that the idea really only merited ten pages and not four hundred after all. Short stories can help you to establish copyrights to your Intellectual Properties. A copyright is a copyright whether it is for your decalogy or for a short story. You will have established, and protected, the basis for the world your stories take place! (Remember, although you don’t HAVE to register a work to have copyright, it makes a BIG difference should problems arise. Don’t take chances with your big ideas. $35 is cheap compared to some of the headaches of the future.) You can use them to create the backgrounds for your secondary characters, helping you to better understand their motives and desires. You might even end up with content good enough to use to promote or accessorize your novel! Or you may end up with enough to publish your own collection of short stories. Which brings me to reasons not necessarily directly related to writing novels. You can sell your short stories for money! Really! There are places that buy and publish short stories. Not only that, it’s possible to sell your short stories multiple times! When your rights revert back to you on your short stories (which depends upon your contracts. Always read contracts!* See notes at the end of this!) you can publish your own collection of your short stories or maybe re-sell them as previously published to venues that might really want your story again! Publishing short stories can also kick-start your writing career. Having published short stories shows you can write and work with editors, and having several short stories published can show you are in this for the long haul. Agents and publishes notice this, and the exposure adds up, and can be kept up between your novels being released. Editors and publishers may even start asking you for stories. Contests can be great exposure as well, but beware of the entry rules! *See the links to the warnings below. This can lead to making new connections. Many local authors and publishers get involved in local anthologies, and that becomes a great way to meet and get involved in your local community. (Contrary to what many people say and would like to beleive, a huge part of getting published really is who you know. Just like most other jobs out there.) Writing short stories can also help you break out of “writer’s block.” A short story doesn’t really detract too much from the novel you are working on, and it gets you writing again. Sometimes that little push is all you need to start that motor up again. Not to mention that actually selling a short story feels great and is a huge boost to your self-confidence. You can also use short stories to learn how to outline or, conversely, learn how to “wing it.” You can try out new genres, experiment with new writing styles and perspectives, and maybe even see if a new pen name fits you well. No matter how you look at it, there is a little something for everyone to gain from trying their hand at short stories. * see more on contracts here: Thoughts on Contracts from your friend Sam Knight Also, please heed this warning: What Every Writer (and you, too!) Needs to Know About Terms of Service RIGHT NOW!
Dead fly cover 4 ebook

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Children's books, giveaway, free, Kindle

Pota tales from the forbidden zone

Planet of the Apes:Tales from the Forbidden Zone

Although the official release date for the pre-orders is January 24th, I just happen to have 10 copies that will be available this weekend at COSine 2017 - Science Fiction Literary Convention! I expect them to go quick, so if you want one, I'd recommend coming early on Friday!

Planet of the Apes, Science Fiction, Media tie-in

A small town santa

Holiday Stories

I don't know why I can't seem to ever remember to write holiday stories far enough in advance to sell them/have them ready to publish during the holidays. I guess I'm just not in the "holiday spirit" until the actual holidays come around. Last year I contributed to a charity anthology, Christmas Caring: A Christmas Charity Short Story Anthology, and was glad to have one of my favorite holiday stories (that I wrote) accepted for it. Previously I had published a collection of my own stories, under the title of the lead story, A Small Town Santa, and I had also had a story accepted to Kevin J. Anderson's anthology, A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories. Out of all of these stories, the only one not written in December was the one for A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories. I suppose that is why that one is the least about the magic of the holidays and much, much more about the commercialism of the holidays. (I still think I managed to squeeze a little magic in there!) The only reason this one was written "out of season" is because the deadline was "out of season" so that the book could be ready for the holidays. Unless I receive more invitations to submit to holiday anthologies in July, I suppose the only cure for this is to write next year's holiday stories this year, while the season and the spirit is upon me. And speaking of the spirit being upon me, Happy Holidays to you. (You know, before the commercialism gets to me and I humbug out.)

Holiday, Christmas, Charity

Domesticated velociraptors

The Domesticated Velociraptors are Coming!

I am pretty darn excited about having a story in this anthology! When I first saw the cover art, I was entranced. When I heard what kind of stories they were looking for, I was hooked! I had to write a story for it! I am proud to say my story was accepted and I look forward to reading the other stories in it. My story is Ride a Raptor! You know, exactly the kind of story you would find an anthology like this. Who wouldn’t want to ride a raptor? All the little kids at Jenny’s birthday party want to. It’s just like pony rides! Right? Right? What could go wrong…. Find the link to the anthology under my books!
Pota tales from the forbidden zone

PLANET OF THE APES: Tales From the Forbidden Zone

I was fortunate enough to be asked to co-author a Planet of the Apes story with Kevin J. Anderson (of Star Wars and Dune fame). Look for the anthology to be in a store near you in January 2017, or you can pre-order it from Amazon now! Here is an easy link to follow! The story I co-authored is titled “Of Monsters and Men” and I had a great time working on this story with Kevin. I hope you will get a chance to check it out! Here is a link to the EXCLUSIVE First Look — PLANET OF THE APES: Tales From the Forbidden Zone.
Ahi's story cover

Artwork for Ahì's Story

Sometimes you've just gotta share something you're proud you did. Now I admit I am not the best artist, but I have to be honest, sometimes I am surprised at how well Photoshop. Filter Forge, and Daz Studio can make me look like I have potential! This is the artwork to go with Ahì's Story. You can read it here:


Legend of puke and stud

Artwork for The Legend of Puke and Stud

The nifty stories section of AuthorPage doesn't have a place to upload an image for the story. As most writers don't usually do their own artwork for short stories, I can't imagine that this is a big thing. But I have a tendency to use "arting" as a way to inspire myself. If I get bogged down in a story, or if I am just too danged excited to sit down and write it, I tend to do some art to help me focus my thoughts and bring it all into view. Or just to remind myself why I am a writer and not an artist. Either way, here is an image I used for The Legend of Puke and Stud. (you can read it here: )