Sunday, November 7, 2010

Short Story Writing Tips

Last Wednesday, Judy Emery and I attended Sarah Totton's workshop, The Art and Business of Short Story Writing at the Guelph Public Library.

Sarah presented a very informative and entertaining workshop chock full of tips for the aspiring short story writer.
  • Be persistent and enter contests. Sarah highly recommends the Writers of the Future contest which is run four times a year and has no entry fee. She entered 17 times before winning a prize!!!
  • When submitting short stories, send them directly to the fiction editor of the magazine. Do your research and find out his/her name. Do not use Dear Sir or Dear Madam in the salutation.
  • Check submission guidelines for all contests and publications. Follow the instructions very carefully.
  • No query letter is required. Instead, send a brief cover letter that can be pasted in the body of the email.
  • Pay rates for short stories will vary. "For the love" means they pay in exposure. Some stories receive a token payment or flat fee of $5, $10 or $20. The semi-professional rate is $0.01 to $0.05 per word. the professional rate is more than $0.05 per word.
  • Short stories are usually 4 to 30 pages in length (1000 to 7500 words). Flash fiction stories are less than 1000 words in length.
  • Read fiction and watch movies that inspire you to get ideas for short stories. Past stories in New Yorker magazine are available online.
Written by Joanne Guidoccio