The benefits of short stories

For the last eighteen months, I have been dabbling in writing short stories. Last year, two of my horror short stories were published in Dark Visions, an anthology of horror short stories edited by Dan Alatorre. Earlier this year, I was invited to contribute three short stories to a murder mystery anthology, Death Among Us, edited by Stephen Bentley. This book has recently been published as an ebook on Amazon.

During the past few months I have written an additional four short stories for two other anthologies which will be published during the course of this year. This exposure to anthologies has made me realise how popular short story collections are, particularly those which have a number of contributors thereby allowing the reader to experience a  variety of writing styles.

I have read a large number of short story collections since I had my first child in 2003. I believe that many other people like to read short stories for the same reasons I do, the most important being they are short and quick and easy to read.

We live in a time when more and more demands are placed on workers. Technology has made our lives easier in many ways but it has also broken down the concept of leaving work and being unavailable. Modern workers are generally expected to be available 24/7 through the mediums of cell phones and emails. Most modern mothers are obliged to work and help support the family and this combination has resulted in less time for reading and other pleasures. How can a reasonable person resolve this problem and still enjoy a good story? The story gets shorter, with a compact and concise story line.

The digital age has also resulted in people having shorter concentration spans and an expectation of instant gratification. Most younger readers do not appreciate the long drawn out descriptions included in many classic novels written by famous people like Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters. They want short, sharp stories which lots of punch in a short period of time. Short stories also fit the bill for the modern reader in this regard.

Novellas, short novels and short stories abound on Amazon and they are popular, I can see that from the numbers of reviews they have. I know that I check the length of a book before I purchase it and I rarely undertake a book that is more than 300 pages unless it is a classic (and I mainly listen to classics as audio books) or it is a Stephen King book (because Stephen King makes very paragraph count even in a 1 200 page book).

What do you think about short stories? Do you like to read them as stocking fillers when you are busy?


Greg promotional material 2 Updated

Dark Visions 2

47 thoughts on “The benefits of short stories

  1. I enjoy reading shorts and novellas, but I admit I prefer full length novels. Every and now and then, though, I just want a “snack” and that’s when I enjoy diving in to an anthology or reading a novella. I just finished edits for both a novella and a book of shorts.

    The great thing about shorts is you can read one or two, enjoy complete stories and then go back for more. Speaking of which, I started reading Death Among Us last night. I’ve only read the first four stories but am enjoying the collection. I’ll be looking forward to yours..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I read all three of yours last night with a few others. In your stories, I love how you wove history into each tale. You did an excellent job of firmly rooting your reader in each time period.

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  2. I have a confession to make, between school and starting writing short stories myself I read hardly any. Short stories were what I found myself writing for writers’ group and also for writing competitions. Then I started reading other authors’ stories. Now I always have a collection on the go on my Kindle – I like to read them while I decide what novel to read next. Our writing tutor says the good thing about short stories is you can make things happen without having to deal with the long term consequences!

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    1. Thank you, Janet. I liked the quote by your writing tutor you shared. That does make perfect sense. I read more novels than short stories too, but we are the older reading generation and we love to read. A lot of modern people don’t prioritize reading and neither do most youngsters.

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  3. I used to love reading Stephen Kings short story collections. I could read it all in one sitting and not stay up all night to see what happens. I just started writing short stories again after reading a couple of collections and enjoying it. I do think poetry and shorts fit our busy society, but I love longer novels, too. I think short stories give a writer room to experiment:) Good post and congrats on all your anthologies!

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  4. Lol, maybe I qualify as a young reader, because I find the wordiness of Dickens to be insufferable. I think he had some great ideas, but there’s a lot of what I consider ‘fluff.’

    At the same time, I think I like short story compilations because you always know that a crappy story won’t take too much longer to trudge through, and chances are always good that a compilation will have at least one nugget of gold within it. If you start a novel and are crazy like me and have to finish it, you might have several hours before you can stop reading garbage!

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    1. Short stories are a great way of testing out new authors for the reasons you have cited. I do love Dickens but that is because I enjoy Victorian era history and his books are a marvelous source of information. I tried to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein recently and I just couldn’t finish it. It meandered on and on.

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  5. I don’t know about most readers, but I love a variety of short and long stories. Most of the time, I have a longer novel going. Some nights, I opt for the quick fix, and short stories are the perfect antidote.

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    1. Thanks for contributing your thoughts, Pete. I also usually have a novel and something shorter like a poetry book or short stories plus an audio book on the go at any given point in time. I think a lot of modern readers and the younger generation are different to us though. They seem to favour shorter books and short stories [or TV or ipads – smile]


  6. I don’t really care one way or another about the length of what I’m choosing to read. I’ll read short stories, I’ll read 1000+ page novels, and I’ll read things in between those lengths. All I check for is whether the title and book blurb make it seem interesting to me. If they do, I’ll read it… Even if some books take a while for me to get through.

    I tend to write shorter works, mainly because I write with younger readers in mind as a rule (middle grade and younger) except with my poetry, where I just write it, and don’t really think about who I’m aiming it at. But also because it’s what I feel most comfortable writing, or my writing style is best suited to, or however you want to word it. I just write, and the stories end up whatever length they do.

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  7. I think most of the ‘fun’ murder mysteries that I read are about in the 300-400 page range. I hadn’t thought about short story collections. But I did get to read a collection of mysteries that a relative had a hand in editing and also had a piece in. I like the shorter works because it is easier for me to keep the characters straight. Some of the Star Trek or other Sci fi is sometimes enjoyable but at the same time difficult to read when trying to figure out when the story is taking place and then the strange names make it a tad annoying too. But I have more time for reading now. And I have finally gotten to the point that if I read a few chapters in and don’t like what I’m reading I won’t take the time to finish it.

    Continued success with your short stories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jules. I also don’t finish books I don’t like but those are few and far between. I put aside Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because I found it tedious and life is to short to waste time. Thanks for joining in with your thoughts about short stories.

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  8. Hi Roberta, I have no problem with short or longer stories/books now.. but then I’m retired! It does make a difference. When younger, with three children and businesses to run ,I was always chasing my tail, and preferred writing and reading shorter works, although I managed to squeeze in many full-length novels. My writing group: Writers’ Ink (ezine Ink Spot) regularly produce anthologies, for which I’ve written many short stories, and I also wrote a collection with good friend and writer Jean Wilson called “Where Angels and Devils Tread.” I do agree that youngsters have less patience with more detailed writing. It sometimes makes you wonder where it’s all heading. Too much ‘instant gratification’ and ‘quick-fix’ machines could, surely, turn their brains to mush! Hopefully not. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy. I found your comments most interesting. The world is changing and is so fast paced, people don’t have time for anything. I think the modern trend is shorter for most modern people. Writers are outliers as we love the written world and make more time for it.


  9. I agree, Roberta, about Stephen King books. I also love short stories in a collection as to get to the real meat of the tale it has to be done, quickly and succinctly. But, I also love to get lost in a novel and I am a lover of description, not too long or I lose interest, again just the right balance. xxx

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  10. I’m a fan of novellas. Short stories are harder- you need a beginning, middle and end but there’s little room for plotlines. I find some novels are repetitious, as though the writer needed a certain word count and couldn’t get it any other way. It turns me off of what might have been a good story if written tighter.

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