What Exactly Is A Short Story And How Do I Know If I Am Writing One?


You can find the previous post and the prompt instructions here: 10 Awesome Reasons For Writing Short Stories. This week I will be discussing some theory.

What exactly makes a short story a short story?

The answer is simple, according to Google, and comes down to word count:

Source: novelette, novella, short story, flash fiction

I don’t exactly agree that a novelette must be light, romantic or sentimental. It may just be that it is more common in the romance genre, so please don’t limit yourself.

A novel is 40 000 or more, but I’m just going to deal with the shorts in this series. In the months to come we will be experimenting with different lengths. Some stories will be typical short stories, others flash fiction, and some will be longer.

How do I know which one I am writing? 

When I start writing a short story I ignore the word count. I simply use the prompt and I write. The ideas come out of that. Sometimes I have a cool idea, but I don’t reach 1000 words when I need 3000 words, for example. There are times when you can stretch and add scenes, but that depends on your story.

Sometimes you’ll have to bomb the story if your word count doesn’t work out, but save it, because you can use it for something else if you love it. We’ll discuss expanding and reducing in detail in a later post. Don’t get hung up on your word counts before you start. Just write and explore your story, it will seem stilted or contrived otherwise. You can hammer it into shape later.

The most important part of this post I want you to keep in mind is the description of the short story: a fully developed theme. The word count might be reduced, but that doesn’t mean we want less story. It is still a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Happy Short Story Writing.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

 by Mia Botha

This article has 4 comments

  1. Maria

    Hi! Just wondering how I can go about following this blog via email?

  2. Writers Write

    Hello Maria

    Please go to the home page: https://writerswrite.co.za//

    On the left hand side you will see:

    “Subscribe by email »

    We’ll email you when there are new posts here.”

  3. bridgette

    hello i just want to know how do i submit my short story?

  4. Writers Write

    Hello Bridgette

    Please have a look at today’s post for details: https://writerswrite.co.za//12-short-stories-in-12-months-submission-guidelines

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