iUniverse loves a good short story. While short stories traditionally do not sell as well as novels, the short story is very important as a concise way of showcasing a writer’s craft. In this digital age, it also serves as an efficient marketing tool. A great short story can be passed around over the Internet to attract new readers. So here’s some advice from iUniverse on how to write an excellent short tale.
Length. A short story should be 4,000 words or less. In number of pages, that equates to approximately ten pages, single-spaced. This number is more of a guide than a requisite, but make sure not to exceed this number by too many words.
- The number of characters in a short story should be kept to a minimum. Any non-essential characters should not be included. Characters who mainly serve a brief and inconsequential function should not be named. At most, there can be three main characters.
- Descriptions: keep character descriptions short – one sentence will do. Saying that Bob was “six-foot-four and had strong Slavic features” will be enough. Give the audience a maximum of two characteristics, and even less for minor characters. We don’t need Dickensian descriptions of how people look and what they wear – save those for your novel!
- Character development: the short story genre does not allow much room for this, and bear in mind that any development of a character will be quick. Development should only be shown in one character, while others can simply act differently. Somerset Maugham’s “The Vessel of Wrath” serves as a good example of a main character changing dramatically while the others just show different sides to their personalities.