It can be difficult to fit all of your ideas into a short story, but that’s what makes them great for the reader: they have to move concisely. Whether you’re wanting to break into writing or just put something together, the writing of a short story is an art form that can trip up even the best of writers.
Types of Short Stories
Flash Fiction: These are ultra short stories, usually told at a breakneck pace or with the author opening in the middle of an event already in progress. They are hard to write because the protagonist may only have a paragraph or two for the writer to build interest and sympathy from the reader. You can give this a shot if you can keep the story well under 1,000 words. Be thinking about no more than three to five minutes to read the whole thing.
Short Stories: Well what did you expect? This is all about short stories after all, and the key here isn’t to understand how long the short story should be, it’s to have a story that can be told before falling into the world of the novella. Short stories are almost always under 100,000 for the word count, and even that is dangerously high and close to the beginnings of a short novel. For this type of literature, think 30,000 words or imagine a tale that can be told, read, and enjoyed in about thirty minutes or less.
Novella: Not quite a novel, but more than a short story. Novellas are the teenagers of the writing world. Their long enough to get you were you need to go, but not long enough to take you were you may want to be. They are an art unto themselves and if you really want to be a short story writer, you should be on the lookout for falling into this next step up in length.
Once you know how short or long you can go, you’ll want to think about the short stories its self. You won’t have the time for long flashbacks, and character development is either going to be the plot or, possibly, left out all together. There will be conflict because you won’t have time to lead in for very long.
When you read a good short stories, it should pick you immediately before the conflict and when writing one, authors should think about how to pull a reader into the situation and the protagonists. Short Stories are often full of highly relate-able characters, even if not in setting, because the writer doesn’t have the extra words to build a relationship, it’s important to pick characteristics that readers sympathize with immediately.
How Short Should the Story Be?
Writers want their short story to be just long enough to get the job done. There may or may not be a lot of resolution or feel good moments at the end, but that’s okay. Just remember, readers who pick up a short story aren’t looking to be lost for days in a world; their looking for a fix to their reading addiction.