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Don’t Confuse Short Stories With a Novel: This is How to Write a Short Story.

Writing short stories is a great way to kick-start your writing career. Why? Simple… because it poses the same set of challenges and questions you’ll face when crafting fiction of greater length, albeit in a more manageable dose that won’t make you pull your hair out. is an online platform to read, write and get paid for short stories. This piece was written by one of our editors.


So, how does a short story differ from a novel? And how exactly can you get started with your own captivating short story right away? This article is dedicated to answering those questions. Let’s get started by examining the differences between a short story and a novel.


  • Short stories are shorter than novels: Well, that’s just stating the obvious, isn’t it? However, the word “short” can mean different things, but generally speaking, a short story can be anywhere from 1,000 – 15,000 words, but most publications only publish short stories between 3000 – 5,000 words. Anything less than 1000 words is categorized either as a flash fiction or a micro-fiction. Novels on the other hand have no real word-count limitations, so you can write a 100k-words if you so please.


  • Short stories have a different structure: Okay, remember how short stories are short? Well, the shortness of a short story also affects its story structure. While you have all the liberty in the world to explore the full three-act structure in a novel, you only have enough space to write just a segment of the three-act structure in a short story. This means you’ll have to focus on the major segment that leads to a life-changing event for the main character. And you’ll have to do that quickly too.


  • Short stories focus on a single character: Another major difference between a novel and a short story is that a short story gives you a very limited room for exploration… that means you’ll have to focus on just a single character. There’s no room for exploring multiple characters or subplots in this kind of story. So, pick a character, make your story line engaging and you’re good to go.

Alright, now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s move on to how you can write short stories people actually care about.

How to Write a Great Short Story

If you want to create captivating stories that readers crave to re-read and share, you’re going to need more than a raw writing skill. Here are some valuable steps that’ll make your content shine:


  • Read as many short stories as you can lay your hands on: “The best writers are the best thieves…” says a very successful writer and we couldn’t agree more. While it’s unacceptable to copy anyone’s content, you can, however, copy their proven techniques and styles. And to do that, you need to find and read as many great short stories as you can. Read the story, analyze it, pay attention to the verbiage, the content structure… everything! As you do, it’ll gradually seep into your bones and you’ll suddenly find yourself writing your own captivating short stories.


  • Make your title shine: Okay, listen… your story title is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, so make sure it really packs a punch! It doesn’t matter how great your story is… if it’s belied by a bland title, no one is going to read it. A great title must grab the reader’s attention, incite curiosity and possible some emotion. Bottom line… it must stand out!


  • Stick to the classic story structure: Alright, now that your title has drawn the reader, how do you succeed in keeping his attention? Simple… get your character into trouble. Of course, trouble can mean different things depending on the genre: it may be physical danger, emotional dilemma etc. Either way, don’t beat about the bush, just get on with the story.


  • Make your ending scintillating and satisfying: This is an absolute must. You certainly don’t want to leave your reader pissed and frustrated after taking the time to read your story. Put simply, your reader should nod in agreement with your ending, without feeling that the story ended too soon. A resounding ending makes for a scintillating story. So whatever you do, don’t make your ending suck.

If you’re a creative writer who delights in telling interesting stories…and you want to get paid for it, then look no further than! Penpee is a platform that allows you to read short stories, write your own stories and get paid for them.


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