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Short Story Writing

Short story writing is a good way for writers to break into the publishing world of storytelling. With each published story you add to your finances, as well as add more experience and writing credentials to your curriculum vitae.

You may choose to submit to newspapers or magazines that have a fiction section. Here are some tips to help you on your way:
  • Remember your audience. Newspapers and magazines are read at cafe's, on trains, in waiting rooms, and over breakfast and in short periods of time. A person’s mindset is not geared for the big read as they are when settling in with a good book.

  • Content is expected to be light-hearted, entertaining, and to the point. If the article is too intense, then the reader's attention will soon be lost and, unlike a book, a turn of the page will serve to lead the reader away from your piece to someone else's.

  • Surprises, twists and turns. Everybody loves an unexpected ending. A good story is one that can introduce characters, create and establish a storyline, and wrap it all up with a good ending leaving the reader feeling pleased they took the time to read it.

  • Similar to articles in the appropriate place, you can infuse your story with humour or thought provoking content. The importance of writing a short story is the ability to make an impact. Don't underestimate the expectations of the reader. While a reader who is pressed for time will not want to be bogged down with too much reading, there's still the expectation of being kept entertained.

  • Many magazines specialise in five-minute fiction. This is a great opportunity for writers, even those early on in their careers, to see their work published. Content is generally upbeat, easy to read, and contains a twist, turn or surprise. Those that are savvy, modern, and abreast of current issues will be viewed far more favourably than the traditional ‘Mills and Boon’ style of writing. When writing love stories, the happy ending can still be there, but it’s how you get there that matters.

If you're considering writing a book containing a collection of your short stories, unless you've hit the big time your book may not sell. Usually this type of book works best for well-known authors, but not necessarily for those still trying to break into the publication world or trying to make a name for themselves.

Competitions are another good source for your short stories. They help to establish your name as a writer, and the winning prize money is always a nice bonus. Some authors have made a career out of winning competitions and then go on to holding lectures, writing books on how to write short stories, and guest appearances at writing functions.


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