10 Resources to Help You Write a Great Short Story

by Suzannah Windsor Freeman

Man teaching with book

Those of us who mainly focus on book-length fiction sometimes wonder about the differences between writing a novel and writing a short story.

Can they really be that different? After all, they both have characters, plots, and structure, right?

Larry Brooks of Storyfix says:

You think writing 100,000 words is tough?  That shaping them into a coherent and meaningful story is challenging?

Try writing 1000 words sometime.  Or 5,000.  With the same goal.

Try writing a short story.

As paradoxical as it may seem, short stories are harder to wrap your head around than a novel.  And harder yet to successfully pull off. (read more)

If you’re in the process of writing a short story, or if you’re considering doing so in the future, check out these 10 resources to help you write a great one:

1. Classic Reader Short Stories

If you want to know how to write a short story, start by studying some of the best.

Read classic short stories from a wide range of authors spanning several centuries. You’ll find authors such as Honore de Balzac, Anton Chekhov, Edgar Allan Poe, and many others.

2. ABC Radio: How to Write a Short Story

Listen to an audio interview with short story writer to gain a bit of insight into the genre.

Contemporary Spanish writer Jose Ovejero likens reading a short story to holding a hand grenade when someone else has removed the safety pin.

3. Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers

Far more than just 10 Tips for Creative Writers—this website features a full run-down of how to write a short story from beginning to end.

A short story begins as close to the conclusion as possible, and grabs the reader from the very first line. It conserves character and scenes, typically focuses on just one problem, and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation.

4. Creative Writing Course: How to Write a Short Story

One writer’s take on word counts, the endangerment of the short story, and the differences between writing a short story and a novel. It also gives some tips on structure.

Short stories are the best place for new writers to hone their craft. But don’t be fooled, they’re not necessarily the easiest option.

5. Time Magazine: How to Write a Short Story

This piece encourages us to save the money we’d otherwise spend on an MFA, and instead take a few lessons from legendary short story writer Alice Munro.

Alice Munro spins tales that show us, again and again, and with wondrous grace, how much can be done in a simple short story. Yet the 74-year-old Canadian does it by breaking every rule ever taught in a writing seminar…

6. 10 Tips for Writing a Short Story

Refreshing tips on short story writing, some of which you might not find anywhere else!

A story should lock into one of your obsessions or you won’t bother to finish it.

7. BBC Short Story Web Links for Writers

A huge list of resources, blogs, and books you won’t want to miss.

Information, tips and advice for short story writers. Find out which magazines accept short stories and read advice about submitting your stories.

8. Short Story Checklist: Techniques for Getting Short Stories Published

You’re not finished ’til you’re finished. Make sure you haven’t missed any of the crucial elements.

If you’re trying to get your short prose published [...], this short story checklist will help to increase the chances that your writing will be selected by editors for publication.

9. The Short Story Critique Group

Need some feedback on what you’ve written?

The Short Story Group is a small, friendly and free critique group devoted to the purpose of helping writers to refine and polish their writing skills through group interaction and critiquing.

10. Best Online Literary Magazines

Once you’re finished studying, writing, and perfecting all those great short stories, you’re going to want to find a place to start showcasing your talent. This list features 20 of the top online literary magazines to which you might want to consider submitting.

With the advent of the internet and with so many voices and such large audiences for the taking, it is our goal and we believe should be the goals of others to push the gatekeeper to continue to do the different and riskier thing that helps writing and writers.

What other resources can you recommend to help others who are learning to write short stories?

Do you have any tips from your own experiences writing or studying short stories?

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