- The plotting will be tighter and the pace quicker, keeping suspense alive and you turning the pages
- If you have limited free time short stories are ideal. You can finish one or more stories while waiting at the doctor’s office or during your lunch break
- You can get right to the action and won’t have to skip over pages describing the myriad ways the sunlight reflects on the grass
- In a short story, an author can resurrect scenes and characters that got edited out of her/his novel
- An author can further develop a minor character from her novel in a short piece
- Short stories lend themselves to film and TV adaptation. Many Agatha Christie short stories were adapted to the screen. Brokeback Mountain and Fight Club were originally short stories
- May is National Short Story Month!
Ready to try some short fiction? Start with the greats in the mystery genre: Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ruth Rendell.
Sisters in Crime, the national writing organization, publishes many great mystery anthologies. My own Central Virginia chapter collaborated with the Mysteries by the Sea chapter (Virginia Beach) and published two Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies. I contributed “A Not So Genteel Murder” to the first collection, published in 2014. My second story, “Reunion in Shockoe Slip,” is included in Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II (February, 2016). Learn more about Virginia is for Mysteries and its authors here.
Award-winning author Art Taylor is one of the most prolific short story writers I know. Get to know Art and his work here.
For non-mystery short fiction, try Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and Katherine Mansfield. On more than one occasion, Shirley Jackson strayed from her usual horror fare, but still kept her readers on edge. A case in point is the unnerving Like Mother Used to Make.
My friend Caroline gave me what became one of my favorite collections: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy. These edgy stories feature conflict-ridden characters, prompting one reviewer to comment, “They hurt so good.”
Readers on the run might enjoy flash fiction (100-1000 words). The Rose City Sisters of Pasadena, CA maintain a blog with a wealth of flash fiction that you can read here. Sunny Frazier, from the San Joaquin Valley (CA) Sisters in Crime chapter, penned a chilling piece you can read online: True Confections: A Valentine’s Day Mystery Short Story.
Do you read short fiction? What stories and authors do you recommend?