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Friday, July 29, 2011


Short Stories can take the reader on a short flight of fantasy.

Many authors have learned that a short story collection is harder to sell than a novel. That is one of the sad facts of life. Many publishers find that while each story could be a gem in its own right, generally a single author collection doesn’t have a theme—something that marries the stories together.

For a single author collection of short stories, what elements make it an enticing book?

Following the premise that more readers generally buy novels than short story collections, picture your collection as a puzzle comprised of stories that fit together piece-by-piece to create a complete commentary with a theme.
The common thread makes it a collection of stories with a theme and a title that sets the scene. In a way it isn't much different than writing chapters, but each story must have a beginning, middle and end. Each “chapter-story” should be able to stand on its own, while having some element that makes stringing them together a good idea.
Thematically linked collections have a better chance of getting published. Anthologies comprised of short stories by several authors are frequently presented under a title designed to set the scene.
Things to consider when putting together this type of collection:
Consider your best story, then the unpublished ideas or pieces you still have the rights to republish. Select the ones that fit your theme. Then go through this checklist:
  1. Do you need more stories? Maybe you have some that are still in your head or yet to be conceived. Would they flesh out the collection?
  2. Make sure you aren’t inserting something just because you like it, even if it isn’t in keeping with your direction.
  3. When picking the lead story, make it a “grabber.”
  4. Is there a way to create some link between the stories? Remember, voice and theme can also act as a link.
Use subtle tools to unify the stories. Think about quiet echoes in other pieces of the collection. Sometimes it isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Even something as obscure as dialogue style.
Consider the order of the stories for the maximum impact. Arrange them for drama, tension or anguish. Intense emotions are great for starting and finishing a book of this type. Keep the reader in your grip and allow them to enjoy some moments of sweetness in the middle before delivering the “take it home” punch.

1 comment:

  1. Morgan, thank you for this articles, it’s so current that it’s scary. I’m in the middle of creating an anthology of short stories; your info is right on time. Thanks again. I will be Subscribing to your site