Short Story Writing
Markets and Competitions:
Ask yourself why you’re writing short stories. Is it for your own satisfaction? Is it for publication and / or exposure? Is it for money?
When I write a short story, I usually have a paying market in mind, which means concessions need to be made on word count, subject matter and submission guidelines.
* If you write romance, humour, ghost stories or light crime stories, the ‘womag’ markets could be a happy hunting ground.
(Guidelines to various ‘womag’ publications are on the right hand side of the site linked above – just scroll down a little)
* One market with a token payment, but with a fairly active and at times argumentative forum is Everyday Fiction. The comments and observations made on the daily diet of featured fiction (up to 1000 words) can be entertaining, useful and at times petty – but usually instructive in one way or another.
* There are a number of competitions out there, almost all of which have an entry fee. The one I enter most regularly is the Global Short Story Competition (GSSC), which *ahem* I’ve won on two occasions.
Stories I write for the GSSC are usually passed on to other markets if I the story isn’t the winner or runner up - as soon as the results are announced.
* Submission guidelines for all genres of short stories, for all sorts of magazines and anthologies, and for payments from ‘for the love of’ / ‘exposure’ to professional rates can be found at ‘Duotrope’s Digest’.
* For your information, The National holds an annual short story competition around January and February every year.
* There are a number of writers’ forums on the internet. However, many writers are averse to sharing market news in case fellow forum members get published at their expense.
My short story writing is influenced a lot by O. Henry’s work. I tend to write popular fiction with twist-in-the-tale endings.
I write crime fiction, horror, ghost stories, humour, and have even been known to write the occasional, light-hearted romance.
Popular fiction usually involves writing a lot of dialogue to move the story along. I learnt how to punctuate dialogue properly by studying pages of books from popular modern writers.
Short stories of 1,000 to 2,000 words shouldn’t really have more than three main characters in them, and those characters’ names should all start with different initial letters to avoid confusion.
Passive sentence construction and overuse of the past perfect tense make the action less immediate and should be used sparingly.
Writers are particularly prone to being discouraged by rejection. Personally, when a story gets rejected, I send it out again as soon as possible. My short-listed story for the National newspaper’s short story competition this year went around the block quite a few times before it made its mark.
Below are links to my two Global Short Story Competition winners, my short-listed story for the National newspaper, Abu Dhabi, and my Canterbury Tale published by Coscom Entertainment: