What makes a good short story?

Let’s start with the length – typically a short story is defined as being less than 7,500 words.  For a reader that could be an advantage when you are an unknown author as they don’t have to dedicate a substantial amount of time of a story that they may not enjoy.

For the writer there is the challenge of capturing the audiences interest.  You may find it easier to jump straight into the storyline, explaining the characters and situation along the way.  Or you may prefer to choose a different perspective on a well-known theme.  In either case the length constraint forces you to move more quickly but shouldn’t impact on the quality of your work.  Of course the story should follow some logical pattern and it should be clear that it has been properly proof-read and/or edited in some way.  You need to show the reader that you know how to control, i.e. start and finish the various strands of plot-line; are creative; can write clearly; and even fall into their preferred genre, if you want them to consider more of your work.

If you really want to create an impact however, your story needs to linger in some way, for example with discussion or speculation:

Discussion: A controversial concept that causes the reader to question some of his/her pre-conceptions or beliefs.

Speculation: A good character, storyarc, or open-ending may leave the readers speculating how the story continues.  This opens you up to further short stories – serialisation, or to continue in a full fledged novel leaving the short story as a standalone prequel.

As a form of advertising a good short story is the excellent chance for you to demonstrate your skills and creativity in a relatively easy way.  If you wanted, you could create a sub-story from one of your already published books.  This has the benefit of introducing your reader to some already developed characters that, if interesting, can lead them back to your book.  Sure, most Ebook sellers will offer a sample chapter before buying but all that can show is that you know how to start a book with perhaps a reasonable degree of skill.  It does not show that you know how to deliver a satisfying overall story and ending.

If you’re interested in using your short story to plug self-published or indie work please check out our main site at http://indieebooks.co.uk.

 See also – Short stories as a marketing tool?

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About indie e-books

http://indieebooks.co.uk is aimed at providing a common platform for indie writers and publishers to show-case their work. The content is kept limited to one (free) short story per author to give the reader an idea of the writing style and talent involved and to help forward them on to more substantial work.
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