on Fiction University:
When I have conversations with other authors about writing and selling fiction—particularly when I’m talking with folks who are aware of my magazine and anthology sales—I often hear novelists say some variation of “I couldn’t write short fiction to save my life! It’s so hard to get a whole story in such a small space!” Often there seems to be an implication that some people are born short story writers and some are not, which is where I take exception.
Because the thing is, I also used to believe that I just wasn’t born with the knack for writing short. Back around 2012, before I made my first sale, at my writing group’s first meeting of the new year, when we discussed our writing resolutions, I remember how mine was to figure out how to write a story of under five thousand words. This was something I had never yet succeeded in doing. In the years since, I’ve sold nearly thirty short stories to top spec fic markets, been nominated for awards, and generally come to be known as a short story writer.
Here are some techniques I learned along the way. They’re not one-size-fits-all: these are not tools I apply to every story, but rather options I keep in my writerly bag of tricks, and deploy when I think they can help me. Maybe they can help you too.