Anna Gutmann's picture
Anna Gutmann from Ohio is reading American Gods November 30, 2014 - 8:28am

I'm typically a novel writer and in the past fifteen years have only written one short story for submission to a macabre children's literature magazine. Other than that my skillz on the short story front are few and far between. I want to have a go at developing this skill as I am taking a month off from full manuscript development after the hectic but rewarding experience of NaNoWriMo.

I know LitReactor has a wealth of classes regarding short story structure/mechanics/etc., but unfortunately I don't have the money to invest in them right now (maybe I will after Christmas!). In the meantime I was wondering if anyone had any good recommendations for online resources or good books I could pick up on how to effectively write short stories. Any topic that would help me is good: character development, story structure, tailoring your writing to a shorter length ... pretty much anything specifically referencing short story format.

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice!

Evolet Yvaine's picture
Evolet Yvaine from Phoenix, AZ is reading Adult Contemporary Romance December 1, 2014 - 4:27pm

Anna - I was wondering this, too. In my Other Non-Pen Name Life I write YA fiction novellas and have taken a hiatus to try adult contemporary romance. I would also like to try my hand at doing short stories (500-10,000 words). I came across this LitReactor's online course mid-January: Jan 12 : Short Story Mechanics with Richard Thomas (which will be geared towards writing flash fiction: 1200 words). It's only $99 and I was thinking about signing up for that myself. Just a suggestion. You may also find resources on Mash Stories. They run a quarterly flash fiction contest that's going on right now. In addition, I'm planning on picking up this book by Callum Kerr. There's the Short Story Tutorial by Joe Bunting of The Write Practice, as well as his book Let's Write A Short Story. That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck. Hopefully, you'll get more responses.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 1, 2014 - 10:09pm

Something else that may help. Normally I eschew any idea of plot structure. But actually I've found for short stories anyway, a good seven point structure can actually help me prune.

Why the seven point structure is recommended for novels, I have no idea.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions December 2, 2014 - 4:15am

I think one of the coolest resources out there is Read to Write Stories:

He features a short story and breaks down some aspect of it into an excercise, and interviews the author to discuss that technique.

Much of it would fall into general writing tips, but because he features stories it's often more geared to short fiction. 

TheScrivener's picture
TheScrivener from Seattle is reading short stories December 21, 2014 - 11:39am

Read more short fiction. Observe how they give the illusion of depth, the illusion that there is more going on that just the words presented.  Fortunately a lot of the big short story markets have some online presence now and even if they are print, they have links to some of the fiction online. 

Anna Gutmann's picture
Anna Gutmann from Ohio is reading American Gods December 21, 2014 - 7:20pm

Thanks you all for your replies! You've definitely helped me out in my venture into short fiction.

Fluff's picture
Fluff from Sweden is reading Road Dogs December 22, 2014 - 5:35am

I would recommend reading good short story writers. I know Anton Chekhov is considered to be one of the best. George Saunders can do pretty spectacular things (like his story Puppy). And since libraries is free, you should be able to find some good short story collections to read without spending a dime.  

Chris the Bloody Scribbler's picture
Chris the Blood... from Nashville is reading Joe Hill's "Locke and Key" December 27, 2014 - 9:39am

I would have to recommend reading good short fiction. Just reading other short stories that have been successful, you'll learn pacing, structure, everything. 

Jim Woods's picture
Jim Woods from ohio is reading Fight Club December 28, 2014 - 8:53pm

The best resource I know of is "Let's Write A Short Story" by Joe Bunting


L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 28, 2014 - 9:23pm

If I may, if I could reword your question: what should be asked is how many scenes are necessary for a short story. When I was first starting short fiction, my first instinct was to summarize every scene. As suppose to now where I focus all the detail on a couple of scenes.