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  • Stella B James

Why Write Short Stories?

Alright, here it goes: My first post on what I've learned about getting my short stories published. Remember, these posts are solely told from my own experiences and are meant to help you! I welcome questions and comments, but please keep things positive and constructive.

My reasoning for writing short stories began when I wrote my book and started the querying process. Query letters are a beast all on their own and I could dedicate a whole post to it, but we're here for short stories, right? Right!

I was fine with my letter. I thought I pitched my book to the best of my ability, and assumed that was the hardest part. Dead wrong. For me, the hard part has been and will always be the biography, that little snippet about yourself that you really hope makes you sound cool and humble all at the same time.

Those last few lines of your query letter are supposed to include what exactly ties you to the writing world. Do you have a degree? Any publishing creds? Are you part of a writing group? All these answers pointed to no, and while it didn't necessarily mean it would affect my chances, it still bothered me. I wanted to have something there, to make myself look a little more desirable and less like a newbie. Please note that this stems from my irrational anxiety and honestly, good writing/storytelling is what truly matters.

I don't regret this little anxious moment of needing to prove myself one bit because it took me on a journey I might never have sought out. A part of me thought, "Short story writing? Piece of cake!" In a way, it is, especially compared to writing a novel.

What I didn't expect was how much better my writing would become due to writing short stories. You see, every contest, magazine, or submission call has a word limit that you must abide by. That word limit forces you to cut out all the unnecessary crap. Get rid of the back story, the long, descriptive paragraphs, the endless dialogue, and get down to the meat of the thing. It forces you to cut down sentences, to stretch your vocabulary, to gut punch without explanation. It helps in the "show, don't tell" rule of thumb because you barely have time to tell.

It can be tricky, and sometimes overwhelming, but your writing will thank you for it. There is a wide market for short stories of all genres. I encourage you to get out there and do a little research to find your niche. And if you find yourself needing a little help on the submission process, stay tuned for my next blog post where I will break this down for you, and hopefully offer you some guidance along the way.

Happy writing, loves.

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