The first step for publishing a short story is to know what it is. This seems to be simple, but writing a short story is not so easy as it seems. It is very important to know the structure of a good short story. Kathy Kennedy gives a general idea of what a short story is as follows:“-Gets off to a fast start.-Generally has a limited number of characters and scenes.-Starts as close to the conclusion as possible.
-Frequently deals with only one problem.-Uses only the detail necessary for understanding the situation.-Usually covers just a short time period.” (Kennedy, 2002).
Marion Zimmer Bradley deals with the concept of a commercial short story. For Zimmer Bradley the elements of such a short story is the following:“A LIKABLE CHARACTER overcomes ALMOST INSUPERABLE ODDS and BY HIS OR HER OWN EFFORTS achieves a WORTHWHILE GOAL.” (Zimmer Bradley, 1996).WikiHow gives the next steps for learning how to write good short stories:“Read plenty of short stories. (…)Gather ideas for your story.
(…)Choose an idea and flesh it out. (…)Know your characters. (…)Limit the breadth of your story. (…)Decide who will tell the story. (…)Start writing. (…)Come out swinging. The first page—some would say the first sentence—of any writing should grab the reader’s attention and leave him wanting more.
(…)Keep writing. You’re almost certain to hit some bumps in the road to finishing your story.Let the story write itself. (…)Get some second opinions. Send your revised and edited story off to a trusted friend or relative for revisions, edits, and suggestions.Incorporate whatever edits, revisions, and suggestions you feel are valid.” (WikiHow, 2007).
At SoYouWanna.Com the advice is the following when it comes to writing good short stories:“1.- MAKE SURE THAT THE STORY IS PUBLISHABLE. (…)2.- DECIDE WHAT MARKET YOU WANT TO PUBLISH IT IN. (…)3.- MAKE A DETAILED LIST OF PUBLICATIONS. (…)4.
– PREPARE YOUR SUBMISSIONS PACKETS. (…)5.- UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS. (…)” (SoYouWanna.Com, 1999-2006).The Short Story Group gives the next tips for writing short stories that are really interesting:“1. Have a clear theme.
2. An effective short story covers a very short time span.3. Don’t have too many characters.
4. Make every word count.5. Focus. The best stories are the ones that follow a narrow subject line.” (Short Story Group, 2000-2002).
A good place to test the quality of a short story is one of the contests of Glimmer Train Press, Inc. (1998-2005). Fish Publishing (2006) is also an excellent place to start as well as Comma Press in Manchester for the British literary market. ElectricStory.Com (2001-2007) gives a list of 15 publishers. At Amazon.Com (2007) the “Novel ; Short Story Writer’s Market 2007”, edited by Lauren Mosko and Michael Schweer is available for sale.
This guide features 1,350 market listings. It has been published for the last 26 years giving valuable advice to new and professional fiction writers.On the other hand, in the United Kingdom the National Short Story Prize is a very good contest to get a prominent exposure in the literary world. BBC states the following about this contest:“The National Short Story Prize is an exciting annual award which celebrates the contemporary British short story. This award is a collaboration between NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), BBC Radio 4 and Prospect magazine, and it is funded by NESTA. It is administered in conjunction with Booktrust and Scottish Booktrust. The inaugural winner this year was James Lasdun, with Michel Faber as runner-up. Next year’s winners will be announced in April 2007.
Award of £15,000 for the winner£3,000 for the runner up£500 for three further short-listed storiesSubmissions for the National Short Story Prize 2007 will be accepted from 18 August 2006Deadline for entries is 5.00pm on 31 October 2006.” (BBC, 2006).
Book Trust (2006-2007b) also promotes this contest along with the listing in 64 magazines (2006-2007a) in the United Kingdom, and the short story magazine Prospect (2006-2007c) published by the Book Trust every month. On ClassicShorts.Com (1995-2006) and East of the Web (2002-2003) sections giving links to online publishers are given.A real challenge is given at The Munster Literature Centre (2006).
It promotes “The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award”, by the Cork City Council, Ireland, in the following terms:“Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award is an annual award of 35,000 euros, as such it is currently the world’s richest prize for the short story form. The award is in memory of the late Frank O’Connor, one of the world’s most renowned short story writers. The award is presented in O’Connor’s hometown of Cork, Ireland. It is organised by the Munster Literature Centre and funded by Cork City Council. The award goes to the author of the book judged to be the best collection of stories published in English for the first time anywhere in the world in the twelve months between October of one year and September of the next. If a translated book wins, the purse is shared equally between the author and translator.” (The Munster Literature Centre, 2006).On the other hand, WritersDigest.
Com (2007) offers workshops for helping short story writers from any level get published. WritersDigest.Com states the following about getting published as a fiction or nonfiction book:“For months, maybe years, you’ve researched, written and revised and revised your novel.
Or perhaps you have a terrific idea and outline for a nonfiction book. Now comes the hard part: finding a home for your masterpiece. But just how, exactly, do you find an agent or editor, and—even more important—get one of them to say “yes”? Writers Online Workshops is here to make this daunting process a whole lot easier. We’ve developed two workshops that teach you how to approach the market the way successful authors do: Writing the Novel Proposal and Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal.” (WritersDigest.Com, 2007).
Dolsters, Inc. gives some very useful quotes from the best short story writers of the world. Brander Matthews (1907) gives a comprehensive selection of 23 short stories from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century, offering notes about them.
Brander Matthews was a pioneer of dramatic scholarship and professor at Columbia University. Wikipedia, on the other hand, offers a list of the most famous short stories of all time (Short Story, 2007). It also gives a broad idea of the evolution of short story along the years.Ra Page (2006-2007) is the editor at Comma Press. His opinion on a good short story is summarised as follows:“In short, the short story is flexible: a laboratory where just about all the structures, forms and tricks available to writers (OK, not rhyme) can meet. It’s an entry point for writers and a mixing bowl for writing itself.” (Page, 2006-2007).
As it can be seen, the field of short story writing and publishing is very exciting. The short story is one of the most difficult genres to handle. It is a challenging task to write a very good short story, and the fruits of a good labour can be translated into getting recognised as a good storyteller either online or in print. There are many literary contests and many publishers.
Most of them focus on quality, so it is extremely important to learn how to write a good short story.