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 was filled with something or the others. Possessions were easily lost and hard to find in the clutter. And almost everything in the room had some sort of sentimental memory attached to it. …


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. …


Just the plot-developing, lore-establishing, or really good episodes

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So the CW paranormal brother drama Supernatural concluded after 15 seasons this past November, and certain corners of the internet went absolutely feral (and not all for good reasons). Good or bad regardless, this sparked my interest me to revisit a show I haven’t watched in over half a decade because… I kind of want to know what the hell happened.

In true binge fashion, I had to restart at season 1. Turns out season 1 is a lot more boring slow than I remembered. But, hey, it’s a season 1 and season 1s are like that as they get their feet under them and grow into the show they are going to be. But, damn, did I just want to get to good episodes I knew caught my interest in the show the first viewing around. …


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 that in a week. …


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 advice, the truth is somewhere down the murky middle. So here are some best practices when it comes to dialogue tags to cut through the confusion and give you some wiggle room for creativity. …


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 many. …


The Short of It

What it is, how to write it, and where to publish it

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Microfiction is the shortest of short stories. The flashiest (in that it goes by in a flash) of flash fiction. Its limits are telling a story in the most limited number of words (or characters, in the case of Twitter fiction) as possible.

Sometimes also known as nanofiction, the most famous piece of microfiction goes back to before it even had a name, in Ernest Hemmingway’s six-word story written in the style of a classified ad:

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn

In the age of shorter attention spans, more content, and the human brain being used to reading and digesting things in the length of newspaper headlines or a status update, the reading world is primed for microfiction to take the stage. …


The Short Of It

Cliches to avoid and what you should write instead

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Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

The opening lines of a short story are so important. Not only do they set the scene, the style, and the genre of the piece, it is your big chance to hook your reader. A fumbled opening can turn readers away in disinterest.

While there are innumerable good and even groundbreaking ways to start a short story — all individual to the narrative the short piece is trying to tell — there are a few, solid no-gos out there. Story openers that are cliche and weak. Places writers start because it is easy, but not because it is the best place to start. Not because it provides maximum impact. …


How to write better by writing less and writing specific

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Kurt Vonnegut famously said, “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

While this is a piece of advice geared towards fiction writing, it applies just as well or even better to the world of nonfiction, instructional, information, how-to type articles like those that fill so much of the server space of this very website (as well as many others).

So if you have a topic you want to share your knowledge or expertise on, do not try to write in a way that is appealing to and applying to your entire possible internet readership. It may be an alluring idea, as many of us want to get as big a readership as possible. However, creating advice that is broad enough and vague to apply to as many people as possible becomes boring and useless to many potential readers. …


The Short Of It

Five ways to hack your brain and the internet for story inspiration

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Photo by Liam Briese on Unsplash

We’ve all been there — sat down before our computers, with time and readiness to write, and our heads are blank of ideas. If you are a frequent short story writer this may happen to you more often than not. After all, you are writing and completely shorter projects all the time, meaning both you (1) use up more ideas and (2) have to start from scratch over and over again. …

About

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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