I’ve written well over a hundred short stories, most of which have sold and some which have also sold as reprints. I’ve learned some things which I’ll share with you. In addition, I’m listing current markets for short stories.
There are two ways to go about this. You can write for a specific market following their guidelines and requirements or you can write the story you want to write and then look for a market that is appropriate. I suggest the latter choice--unless you are specifically invited to submit your work by an editor for a themed anthology or magazine issue.
You are unlikely to sell short stories unless you’ve read a great many of them. This will give you an instinctive grasp of the genre. If you don’t enjoy reading short stories, you shouldn’t bother writing them. It will show.
Don’t assume that because short stories are brief in length that they are easy to write. In reality, it takes discipline to write a good short story and sheer brilliance to write a great one. Short stories are focused works of fiction.
You need to decide the type of short fiction you intend to write. Do you love literary short stories? Try then to write one of your own. Are you into speculative fiction? Do you enjoy science fiction, horror, or fantasy? Are you a mystery writer? Read some of the best both past and present before you attempt your own. However, be aware that each genre has its own type of content. Mashups are acceptable, but first know the rules of each genre before you attempt to mix them. Do the research before you start to write.
Whether writing short fiction or a novel, you need to consider the basics: plot, setting, characters, and theme. Analyze how they fit together in your story. Each of these components deserves at the very least an individual blog—something for the future.
Also consider style and point of view. For instance, who is telling the story? Will this story work best in first or third person? Why? Is the narrator sophisticated, jaded, innocent, naïve? The style and choice of language needs to reflect these considerations.
When you finish writing your story, put it away for a while and go on to another project. Wait at least one month, then reread and revise as is needed. You are now the editor. You will see the need for changes and improvements.
When you are ready to submit your story for publication, carefully read the submission guidelines. You have to follow them exactly. Each market has its own requirements.
Avoid writing only for “exposure” if possible. There are paying markets that encourage beginners without publishing credits.
Here are some market resources that will help you:
Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
One valuable source of information. You can buy it or ask for it at the reference desk of your local library. It is published yearly.
Check out these free websites:
http://ralan.com/ (excellent current market listings for genre short story fiction)
http://darkmarkets.com/ (another up-to-date listing for spectulative fiction)
http://writingcareer.com/ (posts new opportunities for freelance writers) This is written daily and managed by Brian Scott of:
http://www.freelancewriting.com/ (another valuable site which offers free newsletters that are up-to-date. Do subscribe for Morning Coffee!)
http://sandraseamans.blogspot.com/ a great resource. Sandra blogs almost every day and offers the most current market listings as well as discussions on writing. Although her interest is geared toward mystery fiction, you will find many others listings of value here as well.
Finally, if you are curious about my writing credits, here are some of my stories available as free reads:
Beyond the Bo Tree
(first story in this collection is a free read)
Over My Dead Body!
"The Hotel Room Murder"-a locked room mystery with a modern twist
"Murder and Money"-police are aided by forensics in solving a homicide
The Gumshoe Review
"A Saint Valentine's Day Massacre"
Husband and wife detectives investigate separate cases that converge on a murder.
Comments welcome here!