Friday, June 17, 2011

Short story conundrums

While I write primarily novels and poetry, I have also written some half dozen short stories that I am pleased with.  I've submitted them through the round robin of pro markets in the SF&F world, and none have been picked up.  (Some personal notes from editors, though)

I know that some advice would be to continue to submit the older work to other venues and continue to write and submit the new work to the editors with whom you've had near misses.

But the reality is, I am not fully comfortable with the short story form.  And while I appreciate a well crafted short story, I don't go out of my way to read a lot of them.  I gravitate toward diving into longer work. 

It looks like my options are to continue to write/submit, working my way through appropriate publications from pro to semi pro to amateur journals, both in print and on the web, or release the stories I feel are good enough as free reads on an appropriate venue as a way to build readership and share what I've written.

I think if I were more drawn to short fiction as an art form, I would probably choose journals and contests.  I'm just not sure that's where I should be spending my time, rather than focusing on novel writing.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter from both readers and writers.


  1. This is something I've thought about a good deal myself. I have written short stories. Two of them. They're probably not terrible, if critiques tell you anything. I just don't care enough about them to give them the work it would take to make them really shine.

    I think putting stuff out there for people to read can be a double-edged sword, really. Might gain you readers, but if it's not your best work, it might also turn off some people who won't give you a second chance. Particularly dangerous if you aren't finding a home for them in the traditional marketplace.

    If I were going to self-pub shorts for promotional purposes, I think I'd have to get someone who was really into the whole short story scene to critique or edit them, at minimum. Maybe you could even talk to your agent about vetting them before they go up?

  2. I've never even been able to write a short story. I really struggle with them. (I'm exceptionally long winded apparently). I've read some really incredible short stories but can't seem to write any so I can relate. You're lucky though to have some. I think it might be a good idea to give some of the really good ones away as freebies in some way or in some forum to give people a sampling of your work. I don't think that could hurt.

  3. @arizela--that's definitely one of the issues I struggle with. Part of me says, if they're not being picked up for publication, they can't be ready for prime time. However, I also know I've submitted to very few venuse--primarily the pro markets--and I know how difficult it is to break in there.

    Right now, I've inundated my poor agent with revisions to 2 novels, so I don't think I dare send her anything else. LOL. I have gotten feedback on some of what I've written from short story writers that the stories are solid and should be publishable.

    Perhaps I will wait a bit, until I have something long form in the pipeline. That way, perhaps some free short stories would lead to someone looking for my other work.

  4. @LisaR--I spent long stretches of time struggling over short stories because I thought I needed to figure them out as a gateway to getting my novels published.

    I think it's a good exercise to write short fiction, it's just that it's not where my heart lies in the writing process.

  5. This is unrelated to this post which I had commented on last week. There is this Irresistably Sweet Blog Award going around and I was nominated by a friend so I am now participating. I've nominated you. If you would like you can check it out at my blog:
    If not, no big deal.

  6. Finally getting round to reply. When I got back into writing a few years back the short story was a good way in for me. I even sent some off to a whole bunch of competitions (nothing got picked up). But then I really got into the idea of writing a novel and then another came along and now all my ideas seem to be LONG. So, I can't be bothered to put the effort into a short story.