Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.  ~Author Unknown


By: Stacey Purcell

I wish I could say that I wrote those two sentences in the title of my blog, but I didn’t. They were written by the amazingly talented Joss Whedon who also wrote Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Firefly. This is a wonderful example of a short story. A really, really short story.  It is said that Ernest Hemingway wrote one using only six words. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” He also claimed that it was his best piece in a very large body of work.

Short stories are on the rise in popularity. So much so, Amazon is attributing this burgeoning market to pushing their stock up to above $200 a share.


That’s a pretty good statistic. If that didn’t get your attention, try this. David Baldacci recently wrote a short story called No Time Left. It sold 50,000 copies in its first week! Times are changing and we need to be flexible enough to change with it. It wasn’t so long ago that the only way to sell short stories was to bundle them together and sell them in an anthology or to sell them to a magazine. It was a slowly dying breed. Things are different now!

Short stories have caught on everywhere and I want to be a part of that market. Last week, I shared with you about my “mash up” experience. Three of my friends and I have taken turns putting together a story. No plans. No talking about it. Just write and see where it goes.

Now, we’re trying to figure out the best way to edit and re-write the parts that need help. This is proving to be a bit difficult. Finding common free-time in four very active adults’ schedules is next to impossible. Plan No. 2- We’re going to edit in the same round table fashion as we wrote it. I’ll keep you posted with our success…or maybe there will be Plan No. 3. Regardless of the plan chosen to do the painful edits, it’s been a fun and very creative moment for our group, The Usual Suspects. We’re hoping to put it up for sale as soon as it’s polished.

So what is a short story? It’s a story that can, obviously, have very few words. That being said, the six word tale won’t be a hot selling commodity any time soon. The typical short story can be found to have anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 ish words. They represent all genres and seem to sell really well for $0.99.

An author friend of mine has an e-publisher that only handles her short stories and she produces one every other month. Over time, she will have quite an inventory of product out there! She was also smart enough to write groups of stories around different themes so she could easily compile them into anthologies. That’s good writing and good marketing! Those stories will be a source of solid income over the next several years as the desire to have well written stories people can easily read on their phone or e-reader increases. The Director, Hamish Hamilton, at Simon Prosser Publishing stated, “The short story form is better suited to the demands of modern life than the novel.”

This phenomenon is not just happening in the U.S., it’s very popular in the U.K. A British newspaper called The Sunday Times has begun the EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

The prize?

30,000 pounds. (That’s over $65,000)


That’s a pretty good prize. And if that didn’t get your attention, then I give up!


One last really short story: Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.-William Shatner

20 Responses to Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.

  1. jbrayweber says:

    William Shatner – my hero! 😉

    Great piece, Stacey. I can’t wait to have a finished product with our mash-up.

    In the meantime, it really is a good idea to build a catalog of sorts with shorts. LOL. I’m working on a couple of pirate novellas as go-betweens while I wait for the publisher to release my next novel. It just makes marketing sense!



  2. Brandie says:

    Great post! I’m currently writing short stories, but I did not know where to send them…Thanks 🙂



  3. I love William too. Who knew he could write as well as captain The enterprise?

    I also love the fact that you’re working on some novellas while waiting. Need anyone to take a read? You know I love your stories!!

    Editing our mash-up is going to be challenging, but I think we’ll all learn a lot from our adventure.


  4. Hi Brandie-
    Glad to hear that you’re on board the short story train! Most all e publishers are accepting submissions as well as several online magazines. Of course, you could always put it up on your own through Smash Words, Kindles, B and N etc. Good Luck!!


  5. Tess says:

    Stacey, you must be reading my mind…I had an idea for five short stories of sisters in Scotland in the 1100’s (wrote 8 pages on it the other night)…but I know nothing about that time period or Scotland…so I’m off to do research! Ms. Muse will not be denied because I’m ill-informed (or I’ll have to bang her over the head with a frying pan and have the story about triplets in the Regency period – yes, the ideas never stop)! Although my shorts will be longer than this, more like 25,000 words.


  6. Diane Holmes says:

    Hi, Stacey! Wonderful article. 🙂 You’ve hit on a topic I love! I’m a novelist and there’s nothing about me that makes the short story “my” thang.

    I’ve always been interested in this, since I do have friends who write both. I finally concluded that short stories have many things in common with novels… but they’re a different art/narrative story form.

    You use a lot of the same tools, yeah. But just because you can write an elegant short story does not at all mean you can write a novel, and v. v.

    It’s like they’re different forms of poetry, each requiring skill to master. Just because you can write a sonnet doesn’t mean you can write a Jintishi.

    Here’s a lovely article looking at short story, and pointing out that a short story is the world compressed into a grain of sand.

    And here’s another: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/mar/24/is-short-story-novel-poor-relation

    And this really gets to the heart of it for me.

    The primary difference between the short story and the novel is not length but the larger, more conceptual weight of meaning that the longer narrative must carry on its back from page to page, scene to scene. It’s not baggy wordage that causes the diffusiveness of the novel, it’s this long-distance haul of meaning. In a good short story the meaning is not so abstractable, so portable, as it must be in a novel, but is rather more tightly and ineffably embodied in the formal details of the text.


    The novella, often seems to be closer in relationship to NOVEL than Short Story.

    And me, hey, I don’t even like 30-minute TV shows. 😉


  7. My 6th Grade Literature textbook killed short stories for me. An entire year of reading short stories where a dog dies, sibling dies, parent leaves, child is hurt through inadvertent negligence, sibling crippled, retribution for wrong acts etc… all followed by 3 pages of questions resulting in essays twice as long as the story.

    And as I’ve continued on, most short stories I’ve seen have aspire to the level of depression of Oprah’s book club. Bleah.

    The day I purchase shorts will be the day they have a happy ending rating at the top. Because seriously–that’s why I buy romance. There’s a happy ending.

    Little Miss Sunshine Pants


  8. Short stories can be interesting to read, and like Miss Sunshine pants (in the comment above me), I read plenty of them in high school. But they always leave me wanting more. And since there obviously won’t BE more to the story forthcoming, I’m never satisfied. I like a meaty story, one with plenty of content I can sink my teeth into.

    On the positive side, I think the experience of writing a short story can really help writers hone their craft, because it requires weeding out unnecessary content that bogs a story down. EVERY single word of a short story counts. They aren’t easy to write. So, kudos to you and your friends for tackling one!


  9. Scotland Forever!! I love your ideas for short stories set in Scotland. I also love doing research and have to police myself or else I get lost in research heaven and never come back! This sounds like a smart move on your part- the stories can be released as singles and then you give your audience a choice by offering an anthology of the whole series. Great!!
    Length does seem to vary and my parameters were only to show a vague guideline. Keep up the good work, Tess.


  10. Little Miss Sunshine Pants- I’ve got the perfect solution for you- write something different!! Change all those somber stories into ones that you’d like to read. Write something so the day that you would consider buying a short story is here! Why??
    One: you can make some money. Two: you are not unique, others feel the same way you do- give them something they’d like to read. Three: If you do No.2, then you also will do No.1!!!


  11. Hey Alyson- I totally agree with you in that writing short stories is a terrific way to hone your craft. Every word must do heavy lifting in the story. No extra fluff accepted! Even though they are shorter to write, I believe, in some ways, they are more challenging. This is why I chose to try the group route first! Ha! Of course, that brings with it another whole host of challenges so we’ll see… keep tuned.


  12. NEVER MIND….

    Okay. Now I feel stupid. After my little rant of lack of happy-joy, I opened my email to see I placed 3rd in a super 250 word short contest.

    Probably because of my happy ending. hehehehehe 😉

    Short Stories RULE!

    Little Miss Sunshine Pants with egg on them!


  13. I’m pretty sure red wine remove egg stains… Anyone?


  14. Diane- Wow! What a great comment! Thanks for the follow up links for all of us to learn from. I can’t wait to study the content!

    I didn’t mean to imply that the only difference between the two was the length. It is the most obvious difference and since I’m still learning about the art of the short story, I’m not qualified to be more in depth! The ad might be “You’ve come a long way, baby…but I’ve still got such a long way to go!!!


  15. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’m so happy about your placement- thanks for sharing the good news with all of us!
    250 words? I’m not sure if I could come up with a whole story in that amount of space…but then again, look at Joss Whedon and Hemingway!

    I’ve done extensive research on the positive attributes of red wine and removing egg is the number one benefit it has!! HAHAHAHA


  16. debutauthors says:

    Wanna share the name of the e-pub who handles short stories?


  17. Here’s a short list of publishers who handle short stories. There are many more!!
    Carina Press
    Wild Rose Press
    Ellora’s Cave
    Whiskey Creek Press
    Loose Id

    Hope this helps.


  18. Loretta says:

    Stacey, I really enjoyed this:) I am a lover of short stories…I find them stimulating (when writing them) and also interesting to see how tight I can get them…I heard years ago it was a good exercise on keeping your writing well paced, and for me, I’ve found it to be true:)

    I call them frosting:)…a novel is cake…and I love having just a smidge of frosting sometimes, rather than a whole piece of cake.



  19. You have such a great way with words, Loretta!! I like frosting too. Hopefully, as I head out today to team up with one of the writers of the “mash-up”, I’ll still feel the same after working on the edits!!


  20. So true, so true. And as a writer who loves to write short stories I’m thrilled that there are so many more places for short stories.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: