How to Write a Short Story

While there are similarities between writing short stories and writing other kinds of books, there are key differences. You can look up steps for How to Write a Book before returning here for specific tips on writing short stories.

Short Story

1000-7500 words

Short stories tend to be… well short. They range in length from 1000-words to 7500-words before being considered novellas. This comes with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Writing drafts of a single short story does not require nearly as much time as a full length book, also there is less to pick apart for revision and editing.

But this also means less room to tell a complete story. Less time to establish characters and develop them across an arc, while keeping readers invested in them the entire time. This means you the writer will have to be focused in telling your story, to know going in what is most important for the story you’re telling.

Short Story


A by-product of their limited word length, short stories are usually self-enclosed. Everything a reader needs to know about the setting, circumstances, and characters is either established in the short story or at the very least implied. First and foremost, the plot and arc within a short story needs to begin and end within that same short story

Short stories can share settings, themes and even characters to a degree. An example, especially as the stories were not released by their author as an anthology, are the stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Many of Lovecraft’s stories, particularly those that have been gathered under the umbrella known as the Cthulhu Mythos, share the themes of cosmic horror and a pantheon of alien, malignant beings that are referenced or have an influence on the short story.

Short Story

Meaning & Change

It is important for within a short story for something to have occurred. Some change in circumstances or character to have resulted from the events, actions, or decisions that make up a short story. It can be incredibly subtle or incredibly blatant. It can even be incredibly subtle disguised beneath the blatant. So long as something has changed between the beginning and end of a short story, that a status quo has been changed or at the very least challenged.

Once you have accumulated enough short stories you can publish them together as an anthology. Contact iUniverse or follow these steps from How to Publish a Book to put your short stories into print.

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