The Short Of It

Save yourself the tuition and read this article instead

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Photo by Leon Wu on Unsplash

How does the joke go? Who’s got two thumbs and an undergraduate degree in creative writing? This gal!

So you do not have to spend [amount redacted]and four years of your life doing the same, here are the biggest lessons I learned about writing effective short stories from my time sweating bullets in workshop classes (that harrowing thing where everyone critiques your story to shreds as you sit there and just take it) and listening to too many guys play The Wall on acoustic guitar (a college freshman rite of passage for many, I’m sure)…

You’re starting your story too soon

One common occurrence in my…


So I have a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing…

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Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Guess who’s the poster child for a millennial who got a “useless” humanities degree and then graduated into an economic depression only to be underemployed for the next several years that followed?

Did you guess me? Because the answer is me.

Here I am saying it against all the naysayers and Facebook memes and the talking heads on cable news and all those complaining that I’m ruined because of all the participation trophies that I supposedly got (that I never actually got)… I took on student debt to get an undergraduate degree in creative writing and I don’t regret it.

Back it up…


The Short of It

The words you need to know and what they mean for beginners

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Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash

Ever scratch your head while reading submission guidelines? Admittingly, many literary magazines/markets do take time to clarify what they mean and what they expect from submissions even when dropping commonly used terminology. But sometimes they don’t. And sometimes even as you start to get them, they get mixed up in your head.

So I present for you here a primer covering some of the common jargon of the short story (and other creative writings) submission world.

Simultaneous submission versus multiple submission

On the surface, these terms seem like they could be alike in meaning. Simultaneous and multiple are hardly synonyms, but they are similar enough…


A guide to making the tough choices when you need to downsize your personal book collection

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Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

Getting rid of books. I know for many of a booklover that it sounds like sacrilege. But the reality is that at some time in your life you are going to need to downsize your book collection. You run out of space. You have to move and hauling all those very heavy books is… less than appealing. Whatever the reason, whether you are open to weeding your book collection or resistant and forced into it by circumstances, it is a daunting task.

We collect and keep books for a myriad of reasons: for the aesthetics, for sentiment, because we like…


The Short Of It

How to conceptualize, write, and edit in this booming market

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Photo by Maxi am Brunnen on Unsplash

Flash fiction, sometimes also known as short shorts, is a subgenre of short stories. They can be of any genre — literary, sci-fi, romance, whatever — but they have to be short. In other words, done in a flash. They are a subgenre solely defined by length.

The benefits of writing flash fiction are many. Summed up quickly, they are a great writing exercise for short story writers, they are a perfect fit for the fast-paced reading environment of the internet, and they tend to have a higher pay rate than standard length short stories.

But what makes great (or…


I read Marie Kondo’s book eight years ago; here are the lessons I still practice

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Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Eight years ago I used Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as a guide for cleaning out and organizing my childhood bedroom. I was a year out of college and still living in my parents’ house, and have a lifetime worth of stuff stuffed into that room: knickknacks and old toys making each year of childhood, magazine cut-outs of favorite celebrities from the teenage years, more books than could fit on my bookshelves, clothes old and new, and everything my sister left behind when she moved out.

It was a lot. Every cranny, nook, draw, and shelf…


The Short Of It

Where you can cut fluff words, wordiness, and repetition to get your story under word count

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Imagine this: You have a short story you’re ready to submit to literary markets for publication. You find a market that seems like a perfect match. Except that your story is longer than the posted word count limit in the submission guidelines. What’s there to do?

If you have been writing and publishing (or trying to publish) short stories for a while, this has probably happened to you. If you just got into the game of writing and publishing short stories, this will happen to you.

You can give up on submitting to that perfect match market and look elsewhere…


The Short of It

Four writing and publishing challenges to help you grow

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Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

New Year’s Resolutions are a great time to take stock of our lives and come up with ambitions for the new year. This holds true for our writing lives just as much as for the rest of our lives.

Here are some potential new year’s goals that the short story writer can undertake to challenge themselves and stretch their writing wings into the new year.

Write a short story a week

Or every two weeks. Or a month. The specifics of the time are up to you, your needs, and what would challenge you. If you tend to write flash fiction pieces, you could probably do…


The Short Of It

When “he said/she said” will suffice and when to get creative

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Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

When it comes to fiction writing, there are a lot of rules and tips out there on how to handle dialogue tags. You know, the “he said/she said” attached to lines of dialogue. On the one hand, there are circulating lists of creative words to use other than “said”; on the other hand, there is plenty of advice telling writers to never use any other words than “said” ever, ever, ever or lest they been banished to the same circle of hell as writers who dare use adverbs. In other words, completely opposing viewpoints.

As with a lot of writing…


The Short Of It

Your options on where and how to publish your short fiction

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Photo by Greg & Lois Nunes on Unsplash

So you’ve written a short story. You’ve edited it. You’ve proofread it. You’ve proofread it again. You’ve agonized over coming up with the perfect title. You’ve shored up your courage and are ready to share your short story with the world.

So, what’s next?

Publication, obviously. But where? And how? Well, you’ve got options.

Literary magazines

Probably the most prominent way to publish short stories is through online and print literary magazines, anthologies, and similar literary markets. You can find lists of these literary markets on places like the submission grinder, newpages, and pw.org.

The benefits of publishing through literary magazines are…

Margery Bayne

Margery is a librarian by day and a writer by night; a published short story author and an aspiring novelist. Find more at margerybayne.com or @themargerybayne.

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