How to Write a Short Story – A 7-Step Process

Do you want to learn how to write a short story? If so, then this 7-step process can help you achieve your goal.

  1. Read Short Stories: In order to become good at writing a short story, it’s necessary to read short stories on a regular basis. You are following in the footsteps of excellent writers such as Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor. These writers can provide you with an excellent – and free – education if you let them.
  2. Write on a Topic of Interest: If you write about a topic you know about, it’ll be a lot easier for you. This is not a requirement. Plenty of writers have written about football players, doctors, and politicians without actually having worked as one. However, you might find you place the story in a town where you lived or where you live now. By doing so, you can easily access your impressions and memories of the locale or details without having to conduct research.
  3. Share with a Friend: You can gain a lot by sharing your drafts with a friend. They might be confused by sections of the story that seem completely clear to you. Listen. Do not try to defend yourself, or your friend might not be truthful. You want an honest and respectful assessment of whether your story makes sense to your readers.
  4. Check Your Grammar: Be sure to check your grammar and spelling before you send your story out for publication. Use a spellchecker and then read the story again, which brings me to the next point.
  5. Read Your Short Story Out Loud: When you read out loud, you’ll hear any clunky wording and find spelling and other errors. This is one of the easiest ways to edit and improve your story.
  6. Take a Class: Consider taking a class in order to find other people who share your goal. Meeting people with similar writing struggles as you will help keep you working towards your goal. You can find classes through your local community center, local writer’s center, or a college.
  7. Keep Writing Short Stories: It may sound obvious, yet it can’t be said often enough. Continue to write short stories in order to become better at writing them. You will learn an enormous amount from actually doing the work. What you read in storytelling lessons and textbooks will make a lot more sense once you’re engaged in the work yourself.

How Writers Can Benefit From the Short Story Market

There are countless writers out there who dream of someday selling a novel manuscript and being able to make a full-time living as a professional writer or novelist. Just imagine being able to quit your day job and spend your time doing what you love, writing and editing your own manuscripts, attending book reading events, and promoting your work. Many professional writers eventually go on to receive a job as a creative writing professor at a local university, teaching students how to perfect their own craft. It’s a great dream, but unfortunately most amateur writers take the wrong approach to trying to get their work published and become a full-time professional writer. Here are a few tips about using the short story market to perfect your writing, get your name out there and eventually sell a novel manuscript.

First, let’s get a few things straight about publishing short stories. It’s definitely not glamorous, and there’s not a whole lot of money in it. Most literary magazines only give a few bucks to writers for the short stories they publish, so it isn’t going to make you rich. And their readership is usually very low, so you aren’t going to become famous by publishing short stories, either. Sure, there are a few exceptions to the rule that have huge readerships and give big payouts if they decide to publish your work, but getting your writing accepted there is extremely tough, even if you are a superb writer.

So, if the short story market pays so poorly and has such a low readership, why do we suggest that you go there first if you eventually want to become a novelist? Well, there are a three reasons. The first is that the short story market helps writers perfect their writing, and the feedback you receive from editors will help you become a better short story writer and novelist. The second is that it helps you get used to how to actually submit work to editors, and the process that is involved with getting published. And the third is that it will help you build up your writing resume. A publishing company is much more likely to read a manuscript from a writer who has been published in several literary magazines, even if they were small publications.

There is also another reason why getting published in small literary magazines is good for the new writer, and that is it helps bolster your own self esteem as a writer. Even if it is a small literary magazine, there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your work in print for the first time. When an editor makes a conscious decision to choose your writing over the work of someone else, and publishes it in his magazine, it is a great encouragement. You’ll be able to share your published work with friends and colleagues, and it will make you feel much more legitimate as a writer.

So if you want to be the next great novelist, don’t be afraid to explore the short story market before taking a stab at your first novel. It will help you become a better writer, learn about the submission and publication process, and help you build up a solid resume for potential publishers to look at the next time you submit your writing.