I started off on this rocky road to publication writing short stories. At the time I was at university (I had written a few earlier in my life but it was in uni, I decided I wanted to write and be published!), so I was used to the word count of a short story.
What is the short story word length?
Flash = < 1000 words
Short Story = 1000 to 7,500 words
Novelette = 7,500 to -15,000 words
Novella =15,000 to 40,000 words
Novel = > 40,000 words
from: Duotrope - database of markets
After uni, I started to do a comprehensive writing course via correspondence. It took me four long years while working full time. During this, I had to send in twenty submissions as well as complete twenty assignments. Since I was interested in fiction, all the submissions (bar one) were short stories. I didn’t do too badly- out of the nineteen short stories, five were published and one came second in a short story competition. Don’t forget this is when I was raw to writing and submitting, so it wasn't a too bad result. Most of the stories (ie assignments) were written for specific topics – characterisation, dialogue, themes – so it wasn’t freestyle, where I could write any old story the way I wanted to.
After my course, I shelved writing short fiction while I concentrated on a novel but a couple of years ago, I decided to try my hand at flash fiction for a particular market. The task: 500 words. The outcome: rejection. But two of the stories have since been accepted by Antipodean SF. The Bucket (November 2010) and Dragon Quest (to be published in June 2011 issue). So it has been worth it. And a great feeling to have my work ‘out there!’.
I loved returning to the short form. Yes, they are quicker to write but not a walk in the park. Every single word has to be succinct. Every word has to move the story along, keeping the pace going. You don’t have time to describe in detail, or have characters talk for pages on end about their situation, like I have in my novel.
No, it’s get in, get out! Like a crack SWAT team.
There is also the scope to experiment with short stories, seeing if you like writing in a particular genre or style. That is handy when you are not sure what direction you want to go in. It also has the benefit of a quicker turn around time to novel writing.
So now I have the bug again for writing short fiction, and of course I have pulled out some of those old short stories. Three have been reworked and submitted, while others may become longer pieces. I have yet to decide J. And while the competition is fierce, I am enjoying writing/rewriting, submitting and having my work out there while I work on my longer pieces.
I see it as win-win.
So to celebrate the short story form, I have two anthologies to give away.
~ Apartia II ~ published by the Association of Greek-Australian Writers and Artists Australia. It’s 2/3 in Greek and a 1/3 in English (where my stories Detour! and Never Too Late are located).
~ Little Gems 2010: Topaz Short Story Anthology ~published by the Romance Writers of Australia. Includes the cover designed by moi, and short stories by our members Fiona Gregory, Shona Husk and Maggie Mundy.
Just comment below for your chance to win either of the two (open internationally). Winners will be announced on Wednesday 6th April.