Writing and Publishing

May is Short Story Month

Celebrate the resurgence of short-form fiction this May: write, read, and share

May is short story month. It even has its own Twitter account: @ShortStoryMonth, which often uses the hashtag #shortreads.

After falling out of favor for a time, interest in short-form fiction is rebounding. Fueled by e-readers and online publishing, the resilient short story has freed itself from the word count shackles of traditional book publishers. Length no longer matters. Additionally, time-strapped readers enjoy a work they can consume and enjoy in one sitting.

Long live the short story.

As a longtime nonfiction writer, I’ve recently embraced the short story, too. I pursue the art of short story creation as an effective way to learn how to write fiction, to experiment, to hone my craft, and to develop skill in the art of storytelling. One day I plan to apply what I’ve learned to novels.

My friend Susie Finkbeiner once embraced the short story art form in a big way. She took a month and wrote a short story every day. But that wasn’t her plan when she started.

She put out a call to her blog readers, asking them to provide a protagonist, a setting, and a conflict, she recounts. “I promised to write a story for each idea submitted. I anticipated getting three or four responses but ended up with thirty-two!”

So in one month she wrote thirty-two stories and posted them on her blog. Each one was up to two thousand words long. Imagine that, writing a couple of thousand words a day, every day for a month. Not just the first draft but an edited, polished piece. That’s enough words for a short novel.

“My goal,” she says, “was to be challenged and to grow as a writer. I sure did! I learned so much about how the story is constructed and how to feature just a snapshot, which is what short stories really are.”

Susie admits it was fun but also “extremely hard.”

Yeah, I get that, both the fun and the hard aspects. Though I write my short stories in one day (usually mine are under one thousand words, though), doing one every day is daunting. Some May I see myself doing that, but not this year. Maybe next year.

But the purpose of a short story month isn’t to write a short story every day. It’s simply to embrace the art of short-form fiction. Whether you are a writer, a reader, a publisher, an editor, or an educator, join me in celebrating short stories this May.

As for Susie, she says that “One day I hope to have the time to edit many of those stories for a collection.” But for now, she’s writing novels: Paint Chips, My Mother’s Chamomile, and A Cup of Dust. I’ve read all three. Her fourth novel is on its way.

I suspect her earlier embrace of the short story was key in making this happen.

Join me in celebrating May as Short Story Month.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

4 replies on “May is Short Story Month”

I’ve never been any good at writing short stories. My story ideas are usually too big to fit, so I write novels instead. I can write blog posts, columns, reflections, all under 1,000 words with no problem but not short stores. There definitely is an art to short story writing that I haven’t learned yet. 🙂

Patrica, though I gravitate short stories of under 1,000 words (sometimes called flash fiction), the upper limit for the genre can go upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 (depending on who you ask), so you may very well have some short stories in you after all.

I’ve written two short stories, thanks to my writing group posing a challenge each February. I used a prompt similar in form to those Ms. Finkbeiner used for the most recent one and it seems to have potential. For the first challenge (last year) we each provided a character and then borrowed as many as we wanted from other group members. I am attempting to continue to add/focus on a new character in each new iteration – that is a challenge! But the story moves forward….(albeit slowly)

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