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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

Writing the Short Story

Short stories are a fiction writer’s toe in the water. They are short, or can be, poignant and usually must pack a punch if they’re going to see publication beyond the tattered notebook in your top drawer. However, any writer who has written or attempted to write a short story knows that those 1,500 words may be the hardest you’ll ever write. There simply is not enough space to delve as deeply as you want to – not enough pages to build to climax and then wrap it up in some meaningful way.

I have written and struggled to write short stories for years. I have obsessed over the words, closed the file and then refused to look at it for months afterwards, Eventually when I get some much need space, I can return to the work, edit it and start submitting. I get rejected frequently, but those few journals that say they’re considering it and even one that accepted a short story and then later published someone else’s – somehow keep the flame alive.

T.C. Boyle, fiction author and English Professor at the university of Southern California, stresses that “there are no rules,” when it comes to writing short fiction. Boyle says that fiction is an art (I’m sure we all agree) and that it is merely an individual work by an individual person. Understanding this helps us to let go of a need to mimic greater writers or to drown ourselves in the self-deprecating tendencies that arise when we review and edit our own stories. Boyle, in his courses, advises students to read a lot – and not just the classics, but contemporary writers also. Additionally, he is a supporter of writing what you don’t know (not the normal writing advice) because he believes that fiction is a process of discovery. (Read the full article here at Writers

Writing advice is everywhere these days, but read it anyway. Read it because in doing so – you’re reading, you’re seeing someone else’s style and maybe you’re gleaning some piece of advice that has not crossed your desk before. Then go for a walk in nature, return to your computer and let the words flow. If you like what you’ve written – look below for some online journals and magazines seeking submissions.

Literary Laundry (submit shorts stories, poems and one act dramas)

Burner (wants blood pumping poetry, short fiction and nonfiction)

Gertrude Journal (accepts poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art)

Inter-rupture (looking for poetry, fiction and art)

Soundzine (seeking poetry and flash fiction on the theme Luck)

Dragnet Magazine (looking for literary short fiction and art)

Ghost Ocean Magazine (submit flash fiction and poetry)

Red Fez Publications (wants poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art)

Anomalous Press (accepts poetry, fiction and nonfiction)


Echoes of the Right to God – Accepts Essays, Fiction and Poetry – No Entry Fee – Deadline: April 16th

Writer Advice Sixth Annual Flash Prose Contest – Accepts Fiction, Memoir and Creative Nonfiction – Entry Fee: $10 – Deadline: April 15th

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. ~Harvey Fierstein

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