Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams – Neil Gaiman

Below you will find a list of articles by The Short Story team and guest writers.


May 2016: Short Fiction: Making a Collection, by Tamsin Hopkins

At some point most writers of short fiction will amass a sufficient body of material to consider making a collection of their own work, but what makes a good collection? How do you pull your work together in a way that will appeal to publishers and readers alike? How do you select the best stories to create a coherent collection? Is it enough just to put all the best ones together or is it more than that? What order should they go in? There are many questions to ask yourself when you think you’re ready and not many places to get good advice on this aspect of writing short fiction.

I ask advice on these and other related questions from frequent competition judge and founder of the Times EFG Short Story Award and Word Factory Director Cathy Galvin, and Salt Publishing editor Jen Hamilton-Emery – I hope you find their answers enlightening. Continue this short story article…


May 2016: The Birth of the British Short Story, by Professor Charles E. May

Professor Charles E. May  joins us with an article that explores the emergence of the British Short Story, drawing on the book he is currently researching, in which he analyzes the structure and theme of a number of important stories and clarifies the contributions they have made to the development of the form. Continue this short story article…


April 2016: On Writing and Rejection, by Rupert Dastur

“here’s the thing: you’ve spent months dating your laptop, taking it to coffee shops, parks, restaurants, even on holiday. Your characters have become friends. You can describe every location in the story like you’re the living embodiment of Goggle Earth. Hell, you are CityMapper.

So, when that rejection letter comes winding its way towards you, it hurts. This is what you learn: the marriage to your Macbook is a sham, your characters are two-dimensional squiggles, and your settings are saturated with purple prose.” Continue this short story article…


April 2016: Ideas and Inspiration, an Article on Short Story Writing, by Tamsin Hopkins

Shore to Shore author Tamsin Hopkins discusses her own writing practice and asks three emerging short fiction writers (Emily Devane, Stuart North, and Sarah Hegarty) how they approach catching and keeping the best ideas. There is also an opportunity for readers to contribute to the discussion.

Writing a great story every time is the dream, but the truth is most writers will produce a range of quality, some golden nuggets, some mediocre pieces and some that refuse to work. Sometimes, just being able to write at all can be a bonus. Keep writing, keep showing up at the page and be ready for when you’ve got something fabulous to say, we’ve heard this advice before. So where do the ideas come from and how do you find the good ones? If only we knew. Continue this short story article…


February 2016: What We Talk About When We Talk About Submission, by Sean Preston

Tonight I met a writer for a drink. Huddled against the brick of the outer wall, we sheltered against angled rain, and it struck me that he never uses the word “submission”.

The peculiar thing about running a literary magazine is that you talk about submission several times a day. Peculiar, because if you take that word out of the context of creative writing then we know it to mean, “surrender”. Is what writer’s do – in sending their fiction to a publication like ours – not surrender? The moment a writer deems their work ready for the critical eye is a moment of surrender, of sorts, right? Writers will tell you how difficult it is. To surrender your art. To let go. To submit. Is that what we talk about when we talk about submission? Continue the short story article.


February 2016: Setting and Place in Short Stories – Focus on Tyler Keevil by Tamsin Hopkins

Why should I care about setting in my stories? I always skip long descriptive passages, they’re boring.

If that sounds like you, if you’ve ever had the ghost of that thought – listen up. You need setting and you need it to be good in a short story because setting transports the reader to your world. It’s a vital tool in invoking the reader’s dreamtime with you. Good writing gives the reader the confidence to enter the fictional trance of the story and not wake up until the writer allows it.

The objective is to impart tone, mood and world-build and as ever, for short stories it must be done succinctly and early on; hopefully also with style, whatever style is relevant to the story, and perhaps also with grace. Something other than a brusque blob of indigestible description. How do you do setting briefly? How do you get that single brush stroke that says Horse in a way which is more classical Chinese than Constable or Stubbs? Because in a short story you want the essence of the thing, not necessarily the hay and the hedgerows as well. Continue…


December 2015: The Multitasking Opener – Focus on Carys Davies by Tamsin Hopkins

If, like me, you keep a notebook just for recording the beginnings of short stories you read, after a while you begin to notice just how much some writers can get into the first line or two. Some go for the grab and hook the reader’s attention with an arresting first line, others go for a slower burn. Recently I have recently been amazed at the increased sophistication of some openers which really do seem to accomplish more than should be possible in such a short space. Continue…


Status Updates – Short Fiction in the Age of Facebook

Of all the literary forms I believe the short story to be one of the jewels in the crown. Storytelling in one form or other is hardwired into our human discourse. It is a way for us to shape the telling of our personal histories and to imagine possibilities ‘that would enchant, terrify, enthral, admonish, titillate’ and entertain. The informal oral tradition of storytelling only became one of the great 20th century art forms when the advent of inexpensive publishing technology was coupled with the rise of middle-class literacy in the 19th century. This gave rise to mass market general interest magazines and periodicals which serviced the new reading public’s desires and preferences. This new medium provided a forum for a piece of short fiction in the five to fifty page range and writers like Hawthorne, Poe and Turgenev rose to this challenge and began to write classic and timeless short stories for this market. Continue…


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