Three Things To Do When You Worry That Your Short Story Is “Badly Written”

At the time of writing, I’m in the middle of a longer short story project (that I probably won’t post here) that is a hell of a lot of fun to write. However, I’ve found myself racked with worries that it is badly-written in all sorts of ways.

Whether it is worries about repetitive descriptions, about whether the satire in the story is too heavy-handed or about whether the balance between several genres is right, it is one of those stories that seems to have provoked a lot of worries about quality.

Of course, I’m probably not the first person to experience something like this. So, I thought that I’d offer a few quick tips about what to do if you worry that your short story is “badly written”.

1) Finish the story: When you’re actually writing a story, the most important thing is to actually finish it. If you still feel inspired or enthusiastic about the story, then put all of that enthusiasm into finishing the story. Remember, you can always edit or improve it later.

In other words, a finished badly-written story is better than an unfinished masterpiece. Once you’ve finished a story, you can go back and rewrite, trim and just generally improve what you have written. But, if your story is unfinished, then you won’t be able to do this.

The important thing here is not to let worries about quality stop you from finishing your first draft. First drafts can often be slightly badly-written and this is just part of the creative process. So, don’t worry if your first draft isn’t perfect. The important thing is to actually finish it.

2) Remember, there is worse fiction out there: No matter how “badly written” your short story may or may not be, it is always important to remember that there is worse fiction out there. Some of it even gets published and becomes quite popular.

So, even though you should look at your story from the perspective of a potential reader and try to improve it based on this, don’t let worries about negative reactions to your story put you off from actually finishing the first draft.

The thing to remember here is that readers are a rather varied bunch, with a wide range of opinons. If you need proof of this, just look at the “reviews” segment of a popular online bookshop for reviews of novels that you’ve read. You’ll usually find people who really love and people who really hate exactly the same book. These reviews will often seem like descriptions of totally different books. So, remember, whilst you may not please all of your readers, there will probably be people who will enjoy your story.

3) Remember, you’re a better writer than you think: Simply put, if you are worrying about whether your story is “badly-written”, then you are a better writer than you might think. In short, truly terrible writers usually don’t know that their fiction is badly-written.

So, if you have the self-awareness to worry about whether your readers will think that your story is badly-written, you are a better writer than you think. After all, you’ve probably read enough fiction to be able to think about things from a reader’s perspective and you’ve practiced and studied writing enough to spot potential issues with your story.

Yes, you will probably still need to edit or improve your story after you have finished it but the fact that you’ve actually noticed that some people might think your story is badly-written means that you are a better writer than you think.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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