Short Story Series 1: Getting Started

How to get started writing short stories

First off – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step by doing your research!

I can’t tell you how important that is. As a writer, you should probably get used to doing research. It doesn’t matter if you write pure abstract space fantasies or historically accurate murder mysteries, research is a necessity. So brush up on your search engine and library skills! Let me just preface this by saying that you won’t only need it for story facts and finding that word that’s on the tip of your tongue.

Next up is writing the story. This is of course the biggest hill when you start. How do you find the time to do it? Well there’s a lot of motivational options out there. Here are a few that I’ve either tried or heard works well for others:

  • #5amwritersclub – A Twitter hashtag for all those early risers who try to get their words down before work or before the kids wake up. Grab that cup of coffee (or tea!) and join your fellow authors!
  • NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo – You’re probably thinking wait, aren’t those for writing novels? I’m only ready to tackle short fiction thank you very much. Don’t worry. These challenges are flexible. One Camp NaNo I set my goal to be 20,000 words and I plotted out 4 short stories at around 5,000 words each. And for NaNoWriMo? Set a goal for x number of stories to be written, or get some editing in. Check out the Nano Rebels section on the forums to find others carving their own paths.
  • Inspiration Through Reading – If I’m in a deep writing slump, I’ll go find a good book that discusses the process of writing (Stephen King’s On Writing is a good example). Or I’ll listen to an audiobook of various short stories. I know the library had a whole collection of classic horror authors and their short fiction. There are also respected collections of short fiction online that are available for free, such as The Sirens Call for dark fiction or Heroic Fantasy Quarterly for heroic fantasy.
  • If you can’t really get into a short story, then try listening to others review them. I’m a big fan of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast and have been supporting them for years. They do a great job of breaking down the sometimes complex themes and churning your imagination in the process. If none of those sound appealing, then try listening to authors talk about their processes. There are a bunch of excellent author podcasts out there including The Outer Dark and Deadman’s Tome. I suggest trying each one to see what gets your imagination moving.

Once you have your short story finished, then it’s off to find a home for it. I think I’ll look at covering that in the next session on how to make sure your story is as good as possible.

This is Part 1 of a series on publishing Short Stories. If you find these helpful, please leave a comment or share with your friends!

To find more useful tools, check out my page on Writing Resources.

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