Short stories offer the opportunity to practice the craft of writing. They don’t take months or years to complete, and the sense of accomplishment once you finish is satisfying. Short stories also provide a chance to explore genres you might not otherwise try.

Here are some tips if you would like to write your own:

  • Figure out the basic plot. Short stories are usually 3,500 words or less, so you’ll need to make every sentence count, leaving out unnecessary details and complicated subplots.
  • Figure out what can work against your main character’s goal and add that as the obstacle to overcome.
  • Know your main character well. This is the person who drives the plot and gives the story meaning. Make this character as realistic as possible with strengths and flaws so that readers can feel an emotional connection.
  • Choose your title carefully. Make it compelling so readers want to find out what the story is about.
  • Follow the formula, P+Q+R=S: Progressively escalating conflict +Questions unanswered + Relatable protagonist (main character) = Suspense. You want readers to care about your protagonist and wonder what’s going to happen next.

Once you’ve written your short story, you can share it. Check out writing contests, anthology submissions, literary journals, and magazines that might be appropriate for your work.