5 Lessons from My First Venture into Short Story Writing

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I had a very rough initial journey into the short story writing world. Based on that experience, I’ve been able to pull together my top five lessons learned. 

But first things first… today is release day for Once Upon the Longest Night, the anthology where my first short story is published! *throws confetti everywhere*

Ok. *ahem* Now, onto the top five lessons I’ve learned along this journey…

1.There’s an art to writing short stories

Another thing I mentioned in last week’s post is that short stories are just that: short-yet-fulfilling stories. Given that I’m used to having between 80-100k to tell such a story, writing a short was difficult. There’s a certain finesse to not only creating a damn good plot that can be told within 20k words, but also to building believable characters, infusing emotions and motivations, and world-building.

With this being my first venture into the short story world, I’ve gotta say that, while the getting my short story written and edited and revised felt like pulling teeth, it was certainly a great learning experience in learning to cut everything unnecessary–words, subplots, etc.

2. Know your capabilities. 

I know I mentioned this last week, but it begs to said again: I had not drafted a story in almost two years by the time I signed the contract for this anthology. *shakes head* I had been revising my full-length novel for the better part of eight months prior to that, then had to take a break from writing due to pregnancy. Cause let’s be honest, for me, being pregnant not only drained my energy, but all my creativity. So I didn’t write or revise or edit for two years.

So when I went into writing this short story, what I did not do was take into account my capabilities. The fact that I’d been so out of practice never crossed my mind, therefore my timelines for draft and revision completions were sooooo off that it was utterly ridiculous.

3. Teamwork is key. 

Given that I underestimated my capabilities, I had to rely on my critique partners like I’d never done before. Because without planning to take time away from the story so I could revise with fresh eyes, I had to depend on JL Henry and Charissa Weaks more than ever.

Thank goodness for their fresh eyes and amazing ideas because my short story would not be what it is today.

4. Be open and willing to learn throughout the experience. 

This is an important piece of advice! Because it takes so much to get a story publishable, you have to be willing and open to learning exactly how to do that. Were I not open to not only this but digging down and getting the shit done, I would not see my name on the cover of this anthology.

5. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. 

Ah yes. Victories, no matter how big or small, deserve to be celebrated. I celebrated the completion of my initial draft, first round of revisions, second round of revisions, etc., and then the FINAL version via review of the eARC.


Yeah, there’s a LOT that goes into publishing a book, so any little victory deserves to be celebrated.

So that’s it for the lessons I’ve learned during my journey to short story publication. If these insights help at least one other writer venturing into writing a short story, then my job here is done. *smiles*

Also, if you’re feeling so obliged, please go purchase the anthology over on Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble and leave us a review.

Happy reading & writing!

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Copyright 2018 by Melinda S. Collins