h2>Dating : What is Short Fiction?
The first short story I ever wrote was about my mother. It Should Have Rained Carnations in 2004 one night when I was missing her. I used the writing as a sort of catharsis to release the emotion that felt like yesterday, still, twenty-one years after her death. I had just turned seventeen when she died.
I did not write another short story until 2014–2015.
I started writing short stories again because I wanted to participate in a blog-hop with other writers on the Holly Lisle writing forums. Seven of us founded Storytime Blog-Hop in 2015, a quarterly flash fiction blog-hop in January, April, July, and October. I create a story for it every quarter and my next one is on July 29th.
This practice made me fall in love with the art of the short story form. It was a challenge to create a story that moved readers, conveyed a good story, and did it in less than 1,000 words. The real goal was to do 500 words or less, but I did not always make that goal.
The first thing I had to figure out was a structure that worked for me. I learned a lot when I took Holly Lisle’s flash fiction course, but the structure still eluded me. I can say now that I have a working idea of what a short story structure looks like.
I am using the many things I have learned to create a short story course on Podia to help others learn the structure and to love the short story as I do.
A short story is a story narrative from 1,500 words to 20,000 words depending on a publication’s guidelines. The most popular word lengths are 500–1,000 for flash fiction, and 3,000–7,000 words for a short story.
The short story focuses on a moment in time and can be read in one sitting. The goal is to elicit emotion or connection or just a reaction within that story moment. Word limitations restrict the focus of the story to the here and now, using selective word choices to convey the message.
The important thing is that no matter how short the story, you give your reader a feeling of satisfaction or closure in that one moment.
The Egyptians told their stories in text but, for religious hymns and working songs, they used verse. The Greeks were some of the first to moralize fables. The Middle Ages short tales were told for amusement and entertainment.
The 17th and 18th centuries marked the decline of the short story with the emergence of the novel. The modern short story appeared at the beginning of the 19th century in Germany, the United States, France, and Russia.
In modern times, Hawthorn was the first to use symbology in his short stories representing current events. Many since have used story form to convey their ideologies to the masses.
Everyone is busy in today’s society, so the short story has found an audience among the working and those with short attention spans. It can be the perfect way to pass the time while waiting for a doctor, or in line for a restaurant, or waiting to pick up your kid from school.
Writing a short story can help tighten your writing as it teaches you to be selective in your word choices when word count is limited. So, you must convey your message more concisely and create a picture as well as evoke emotion or reaction in a few words.
Writing short stories can help you tighten your scenes in novels and even help you figure out how to create one.
It is an excellent way to practice capturing moments in time on the fly. Always carry a notebook and pen so you have a place to capture ideas/scenes as they are inspired, much like an artist uses a sketchbook.
You can use it as a reader magnet (to attract readers to your writing) for your newsletter, or as a giveaway, or maybe a promotional tool for your upcoming novel.
You can create a collection of short stories, format them into an eBook, and sell it on Amazon or other such platforms. You can create collections of short stories by theme, character, or world (e.g., a town, a galaxy, a community, a school, and so forth).
It is a fun way to collaborate with other writers and network to create an anthology based around a theme from several authors.
Writing for anthologies is always a great way to earn money from your short stories. You can find online magazines and print magazines. You should read the submission guidelines of any publication and give them what they want if you want them to accept your story.
You can find short story contests and blog hops that also allow you to practice writing for an audience and get your work out into the world. Some of those pay or offer link backs to your work, which helps increase traffic to your website or portfolio.
The online publication Freedom With Writing is a good source for submitting a short story that will pay you. Duotrope is another place. It is a subscription publication for authors that is very inexpensive. Stormdance Publications, which I founded with another author is listed in Duotrope and in Freedom With Writing as places to submit.
You can write fiction, nonfiction, and memoir in short story form. It would be a fantastic way to participate in the Ninja Writers BYOB (blog your own book) challenge. We are planning our themes in July and writing the BYOB in August.
For my BYOB, I am debating between thirty-one short stories in my space opera series world or thirty-one questions a writer should ask themselves when developing a story idea, or a variation of both.
You can learn more about BYOB here: The Kick-Off, You Absolutely Should Blog Your Own Book, and FAQ. The BYOB officially started on July 1st. Come join me!