Writing short stories & what's next

Learnings from the Easy But Hard story collection

Hello!

It’s been a while since I sent an email. As some of you might know, I’ve been writing a story series since February called Level Up. It’s the story of a person unexpectedly getting promoted, and being unable to handle the pressure that comes with it.

But instead of writing this as a novel where I would publish everything at once after I finish writing, I decided to publish a chapter every week. Here's how the experiment went:


Where did I start?

When I started writing the Level Up series, the goal was to validate whether a series would engage people better for a weekly delivery format, as compared to writing one-off short stories every week.

And in the process, I would also validate my material for longer formats - series, books, films.

Surprisingly, each of the 10 episodes has been shared at least once. When I was writing one-off stories before this, such consistent sharing never happened.

Whether it is just one person sharing all of them, or more sharing once, I don't care.

The important part - people were sharing the stories.

And at the same time, I've connected with new people who read and gave me good feedback.

Some even pointed out mistakes in the story! I take this positively!

Going back to the original goal:

  • Has the content engaged people more? Yes!

  • Have I gotten feedback for longer material? Yes!

Initially, I was scared about publishing a series consistently.

Fiction needs dedicated upfront thinking, which doesn't work best with a weekly publishing schedule.

Once an episode was published, I couldn't go back and change things.

But while writing this series, I created a system that helps me overcome that.

The system:

  • Think about the characters and the theme upfront.

  • At any point, have +3 stories ready to be published.

  • Have a vague ending in mind.

This system prevented the urge to change things in already published stories.


So, what's next?

Frankly, I'm trying to figure it out. I will continue to write more short story series and also continue to evolve Level Up, but it will take some time to figure out what’s the next season of Level Up going to look like.

But in the meantime, I am going to merge my fiction and non-fiction "newsletters" into one. I had previously not done this to avoid sending irrelevant emails. But, it turns out that the people who read Zoom In, Zoom Out, are also likely to read Easy But Hard!

What do you think?

If you would like to follow along my work, do subscribe:

Thanks for reading :)

Hemant

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