Can You Write a Short Story?

Short Story with quillEarly in my writing career, I was told to write short stories.  When I asked why, I was told, all the elements of a novel are in the short story. A good short story must have a beginning, middle, and end.

Writing a short story reminded me of a comment I like by Mark Twain: “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”  A good short story, like an off the cuff speech, takes at lest three weeks or longer to write, And as Twain also said, making writing concise is difficult.

Writers need to write a short story in less than a 1000 words before they try to sell a novel.


Because if you can’t write a beginning, middle, and end in 1000 words, writing 50,000 words will be really difficult.

Another reason to write short stories or articles is that there is a market for them. Magazines, e-zines, and websites all need stories. Selling a story to a publisher gives you a writing credit, something that is critical if you hope to publish a book.  Every line on your writing resume is important. If you can list several publications that printed your stories, a book publisher will be more interested in your manuscript.

So, what magazines are looking for short stories?  Short Story Markets  is a good place to start.

Not sure where to set your story. If you live in a unique area, for example New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, or a unique area, consider using that as the background for your story. While your local area may be boring to you, readers in Europe like to read stories set in cities they may have visited or wish to visit.

Once again, SET  GOALS.

  •  Read what type of story and length several magazines need.
  • Read copies of stories they have published
  • Write a great story
  • Have  trusted writers give you feedback
  • Write your query letter
  • Edit your story after receiving feedback
  • Submit your query and story. Make the query personal to each magazine.
  • Keep trying. Yes, rejection hurts.
  • Submit to more publishers.
  • If you receive a “good rejection letter” one that offers encouragement, send a thank you note and ask if you may resubmit if you edit your story.
  • Keep trying. People who become published don’t give up.

Remember, every published writer was unpublished at one time. If you haven’t seen your writing in print yet, you are not unpublished, you are prepublished. Maintain a  successful mindset.

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