The joy of a short story



It’s the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and, serendipitously, it is also National Short Story Day.  So, it is the perfect opportunity to find some time to cosy up with hot drink and a little book.

What is a short story? It’s not as obvious as it seems, they can come in all shapes and sizes. Anything up to around 10,000 words long is considered a short story but it can also be much smaller, or it can be a collection of short pieces either completely connected by a common character or place, or, loosely associated by a theme.

Short stories have been around forever, of course, and many of our modern tales have their roots in the fairy tales and folktales told hundreds of years ago and collected by writers such as the Grimm brothers.

As a writer I love short stories, and not just because writing a full-length novel is a long hard thing to do. Writing shorter pieces allows me to really drill down into something specific a character, feeling or sometimes even just a short moment in time. It can feel like capturing a memory or a fleeting piece of a dream. It gives you a place to explore ideas and see where they lead, no need for complicated plot planning.

They also require you to take care with your writing, as every word counts. You can’t be fluffy or pad out a tricky passage, a short story has no place for excess baggage. The story must have a strong opening that intrigues and solid ending that anchors. Of course, sometimes, a short story can actually start to tell you that it wants to be something bigger, that’s how my first novel began. It’s important to go with it when that happens, some tales are not meant to be constrained, they have more to tell.

As a reader I love them too, these little glimpses into lives and experiences that give you a taste of a person or place. It’s a sure sign of good writing when as a reader you’re left wanting to know more, but that you don’t feel short-changed. Short stories are perfect travelling companions, and ideal for times when reading a full novel isn’t what you need because you’re short of time, tired or likely to be interrupted.

They lend themselves brilliantly to e-books, both for authors as a very effective way to reach their audience, and for readers they are cost effective when compared to the cost of print. They also provide an excellent way to introduce readers to new emerging writers, and for establish authors to find new readers.

 If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of the short story, search on-line for suggestions in genres you like and take the plunge. Let us know about your favourite discoveries by tagging #freshlypress in your social media posts!

Get a FREE copy of Tracy Stewart’s short story ‘Boy Meets Girl - Where do we go from here?’ by signing-up to her monthly newsletter with bookish news, tales from her writing life, snippets of upcoming books and more. Get your FREE story here.

Freshly Press Short Stories Competition:


To celebrate #ShortStoryDay we are offering the chance for 5 lucky writer's to have their manuscripts professionally edited by our Team so that your manuscript is the best it can be. In addition, we will publish your short story on our blog and social media pages with links back to your website and online profiles for increased author exposure! PLUS…

ALL entrants will receive a complimentary 20% off any Freshly Press Services with a promotional code to use in your shopping basket until 31st January 2019.

The competition ends 31st December 2018 at 12.00am (GMT) and winners will be announced on Monday 7th January via our Competition Newsletter. To enter, find out more details or read the terms and conditions, simply click on the button below: