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Short Stories: They’re Back … and They’re Here To Stay!

Short stories went out of vogue for several decades when writers and readers turned their backs on these literary gems. But now shorts are back with a vengeance, due in large part to the e-book. Author and blogger Anne R. Allen says we’re in a new golden age of short fiction. See her complete post here.

Do you write short stories? If so, you know how satisfying and enjoyable they can be. For those writers who are thinking of dipping their toes in these literary waters, here are just a few reasons to try this time-honored medium (Anne R. Allen offers twelve reasons):

  • After struggling with your novel, writing short can give you a feeling of accomplishment;

  • It helps you to hone your writing skills;

  • While writing short is a challenge like any good writing (you need to develop a compelling plot and characters), you’re dealing with a minimum of scenes and characters, making the process simpler;

  • It gives you fresh material to promote while you’re working on your novel, keeping your readers engaged;

  • In a short piece, you can resurrect scenes and characters that got edited out of your novel;

  • You can further develop a minor character from your novel in a short piece (check with your editor first);

  • You can experiment with new genres

You don’t have to look any further than Sisters in Crime for a great mystery anthology. My own Central Virginia chapter collaborated with the Mysteries by the Sea chapter (Virginia Beach) and published the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology in 2014. I contributed the story “A Not So Genteel Murder.” My second story, “Reunion in Shockoe Slip,” is included in Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II (February, 2016).

I have to say that I’ve turned into a fan of short stories and plan to make them a significant part of my oeuvre (I love that word!). I’m in the “thinking” stages of plotting a flash fiction piece. Sunny Frazier gave me a nudge recently with her chilling True Confections: A Valentine’s Day Mystery Short Story.

Ready to get started on this exciting and rewarding writing medium? Read and study the works of the greats in the mystery genre: Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ruth Rendell. For non-mystery short fiction, try Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and Katherine Mansfield. On more than one occasion, Shirley Jackson strayed from her usual horror fare, but still kept her readers on edge. A case in point is the unnerving Like Mother Used to Make.

My friend Caroline gave me what became one of my favorite collections: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy. These edgy stories feature conflict-ridden characters, prompting one reviewer to comment, “They hurt so good.”

For more information on writing short stories, check these resources:

Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS). Join and maybe you’ll win a Derringer!

Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips for writing a good short story are here.

Do you write short fiction? If so, do you enjoy the process? Would you recommend it to other writers?

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