The nature of short stories

Some bloggers excel at sharing with guests who bring their extensive knowledge with them, while others dive into the deep and meaningful, with carefully researched quotes to back up their argument. When I decided to start a blog, I had no contacts, no author friends at all – I was a complete writing loner – so I didn’t anticipate anyone reading it at all. I basically use my blog as a diary.

My new book stand!

So, when I have a deep and meaningful thought, and decide to write a blog post about it, I fall short – my entireΒ deep and meaningful thought took a single sentence… which is not a blog post, it’s a tweet!

Hence, I’m writing a long and rambling intro, in the hope that it will distract from the shallowness of my thought.

The nature of short stories (starting here properly)

Short stories written for collections are written in a completely different style to short stories written for competitions.

Recently, I’ve been writing stories to submit to online journals and competitions, while reading a short story collection.

My own work has been geared to jumping off the page, attracting the editor/judge’s attention from the off, and holding it until the very last sentence. And, preferably, having it linger in their mind while they move on to the next submission.

The collection, however, has been more placid, like a warm chocolate brownie rolling around in your mouth, slow and precise and a little bit meandering until it hits the crescendo, the crux.

21151201_1860500257298687_4500366284704478189_nThis might, of course, be completely obvious to you. Probably very obvious to authors who write commissioned pieces – looking at the market before the consider the execution of their story – butΒ I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the difference. When I write a story, the idea comes, then the title, then the first line – usually in that order, and usually pretty quickly. Bam, bam, bam! The story is on the page before I consider what I’m going to do with it.

I intend to use this revelation wisely!


What have you discovered about writing, recently?

As a reader, have you considered the differences in the stories you read?

Am I really the last person to have figured this out?


You can read my 1st placed story The Fear of Ghosts on the Dark Tales websiteΒ for another couple of weeks, until next month’s winner is announced. I’d love to know what you think of it, if you haven’t told me already! And if you loved it, you can always tell me again πŸ˜‰


32 thoughts on “The nature of short stories”

  1. I hadn’t really thought about this much before but on reflection now I think you are quite right, Annalisa, they are written differently. I haven’t written many short stories of late but if I do decide to write one or update an old one for a competition submission I always try and look at it as a judge might! It can be quite an intense process as you are trying to keep them enthralled until the end and then give them a killer twist to finish! I can see that stories for other market s are quite different. Interesting points to consider.
    PS I love your book stand and tote.


  2. I hadn’t thought about this until reading it here, but I think you’re right. Also, I quite liked your long and rambling intro, though in the end, I don’t think your thought was shallow at all.


  3. Hi Annalisa – clever to get the tote organised – rather like that. I’ve never thought about it … but now you’ve mentioned it – perhaps I’ll keep a better eye open. Blog posts are usually what I write – and then the idea is there … I need to introduce the subject and last but not least is the title … but I don’t like my titles being overt -for some reason! So your description of story – no wonder I struggle with it … I don’t do bam, bam, bam — actually now I come to think about it – if I talk my work then perhaps that’s the way it is … but that’s for another day.

    You’ve done really well with your stories – so you definitely have the right thought process … cheers Hilary

    PS I’m popping over to your dark tale now … I’ll be back …


    1. Excellent “The Fear of Ghosts” … wonderful story Annalisa – so glad it’s daylight here! Really clever compelling story – can see that being read to many a child – not sure what happens next … definitely a GK Chesterton type ghost story … congratulations – cheers Hilary


    2. I think you write non-fiction so well – have you ever written articles? I think you could introduce people to a wide variety of subjects.

      I’m so pleased you like the story – it’s a rather old one that I refreshed. I always liked it, but it never quite hit the mark, until now.


  4. I hadn’t thought about there being a difference either, so I’m with you! I always just try to tell the story the best way I can, but if you know what you’re doing with it, that could affect it. A collection might have a theme running through it, and maybe there would be a more understated feel. The book stand looks great!


    1. There was a remarkable difference with the stories I was comparing… obviously, because I remarked upon it lol. I wonder how differently you could write the same story, if the markets you were aiming for were different?


  5. When I started blogging, I didn’t know any other writers or authors.

    I don’t write shirt stories any more, but I have read short story collections. And now that you said it, I have noticed the difference. I just never really thought about it. It’s a good revelation!


  6. I’ve been reading a lot of trad published lately. What I noticed, as I’m paying attention, is how they defer to the flow of the sentence/story above all else. They pay no mind to ‘that’, ‘was’, etc… It’s about what makes the thought/story/flow the most clear, so that you don’t notice the author but sink into the story.


  7. Now that you mention it, there is a difference.

    I started blogging over 12 years ago and it was many years before I started connecting with other writers.


    1. I checked back, to get the dates right, and it was at least 2 years before I made more connections – it was the 2012 A-Z challenge, following Alex and getting involved in the IWSG that helped me with that.


  8. good post. I do think I’ve been aware of writing to different markets, so to speak. I think it hit me when I got a rejection of “too dark” and then one that said “not dark enough”. So much depends on catching someone’s eye.
    And congrats again on your winning story. So darn good!!!


  9. An interesting take on the difference between writing for a collection and for a competition. Like others here, I hadn’t thought about it, but what you’ve laid out makes perfect sense.


  10. Wow I’m so glad I got to read your winning story before the site took it down! I LOVED it!! I was so creeped out by the end but in a good way of course. You know I always love your work and this was one of my favorites. Bravo!!


  11. Excellent story!
    I loved the pacing and tension.
    It gripped me…from beginning to end.

    That’s an interesting point about short stories written for collections compared to short stories written for competitions. I’ve never really thought about it in that way… πŸ™‚


  12. Congratulations on your Dark Tales win, Annalisa, I very much enjoyed your creepy ghost story, right up my reading avenue! 😱😊 I just wondered when in the month and how they contact those they’re going to publish? I entered a story for the August competition but didn’t receive any acknowledgement they had received it though I checked the email address was correct. Ah well, there’s always next time. πŸ™ Enjoying your blog too


    1. Hi Rosie, thank you. I replied to your question on my Facebook page, but in case you didn’t pick that one up – and in case anyone else is interested in the answer here – I didn’t receive an acknowledgement for the entry, and I was informed that I’d won by email on the day the story was published on the site. Best of luck πŸ™‚


      1. Ah, I did see that on Facebook, Annalisa, thanks for your reply. Do you recall what day of the month Dark Tales got back to you? Just a little disconcerting sending stuff into the ether with no acknowledgement , and I want to enter my story for something else if Dark Tales don’t fancy it, but I suppose they get loads of entries.


      2. I got the email approx 2 weeks after the closing date.

        A lot of comps don’t acknowledge, or they use the Paypal confirmation as acknowledgement. You can trust the established competitions/markets, and research or avoid the ones you’re not sure about. I always try to find the date they’ll announce in the rules – but with a monthly comp you know it’ll definitely be announced before the closing date of the next one.


  13. Ah, okay, thanks, I guess it’s a no from them this time, though I can’t seem to access this month’s winners yet. Yes, an actual announcement date is always good. I enjoy your blog too, interesting thoughts on the differences between gearing short stories for a collection or a competition. I’m realising how important it is to tailor for particular markets


  14. What a great and informative post! Years ago, I used to read short stories and anthologies quite a bit. Now not so much. I think it takes a lot of talent to capture everything that needs to be said in a tiny story, but it seems you have that wonderful skill. I could never do it, and have it make sense in a million years. Hugs…and kudos!


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