What makes a good short story?

Over the next few months, I will be featuring ideas about writing the Short Story. As some of you know, I’m working with Adams Creative Solutions on the 2020 Indie Author Short Story Anthology.

We are hoping to gather forty short stories from authors that range from 500 to 5000 words. The criteria to submit YOUR SHORT STORY is all spelled out on:


The owners of Adams Creative Solutions are sponsoring the production of the Anthology.

I guess the first thing to discuss is HOW LONG is a SHORT STORY?

According to most of the online articles and short story writing classes I’ve taken, the short story ranges from 1000 to 7500 words.

A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.       ~Lorrie Moore~

What is a Short Story?

The best and most straightforward way to describe a short story is:

  • It’s short
  • It has an impact and a meaning
  • It should be memorable

Maybe a better description of the short story is to call it an anecdote or relating an incident. The short story allows the writer to use direct language to get your Protagonist from Point A to Point B.

In essence, the short story has a few key characteristics:

  • A single main character (Protagonist)
  • A simple plot structure
  • A Clear Beginning, middle, climax, and end

There aren’t usually sub-plots, and the secondary characters are one-dimensional. Within the limited word count, you only have time to build ONE character. This multi-dimensional character will change during the story.

So, the main character at the beginning of the story should not be entirely the same person at the end. Something happens at the core level.  Something around them OR within them changes. Your main character gains insight or changes direction. The Protagonist grows or weakens because of the dramatic event at the center of your story.

So, that’s all for today. I’ll be back next week with the top reasons to write short stories. The most important is for YOU to be included in the 2020 Indie Author Short Story Anthology.

Until then, enjoy your writing adventure,

~Mustang Patty~

Published by Mustang Patty

I am finally a full-time author, who writes legal thrillers, how-to- books, short stories, flash fiction, a tiny bit of poetry, and Blog posts. My published works include 'Guilty until Proven Innocent,' 'Innocent for the Moment,' and 'Moment by Moment.' This is a trilogy called the Jill Adair Series. Additionally, I've written a collection of short stories about my dogs, Howie and Bernie - with a 2nd Collection coming in late 2021. I'm also coordinating an Anthology of Short Stories called, '2021 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology.' This book will be available on Amazon.com on August 1st of 2021. (The 2020 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology is currently available on Amazon.com - the collection includes 30 stories, written by 18 different Authors from three continents.) I am married to my wonderful hubby of over 37 years, and I have two grown children, named Heather and Gregory. I've been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, Heather Rose and Logan Ernest.

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