Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Fiction University Has a New Column: Focus on Short Fiction!

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Short fiction used to just be short stories, but these days, shorter works are a vital part of an author’s body of work.

This site has mostly focused on novels in the past, but that’s about to change. Short fiction is a growing market, and one that writers should seriously consider, even if they’re not a short story writer.

Because short fiction isn’t just about short stories.

Short fiction is a way to release more stories to your readers.

Look at your favorite authors—odds are they have novellas mixed in with their series, side stories that weren’t focused on in the main storyline, or tales told from secondary characters. Maybe they’re prequels or epilogues for fans who want to know more about the characters they love.

Or maybe that author got started in short stories, and now have those stories for sale or to download on their sites. They might even have anthologies, or collections of their shorter works.

Amazon even has a “Short Reads” category now, separating books by how long it takes to read them. Only have 15 minutes? There’s a whole slew of books just for you. Looking for reads under an hour? They have those, too. Two hours is the max, which is essentially an evening read before bed.

Which is why I decided it was time for more articles with tips and advice on how to write short fiction.

I’m thrilled to announce the Focus on Short Fiction column.

I’ve never been a short story writer, even though I love the idea of writing them. I just seem to gravitate toward 60,000-80,000 words with any idea I can come up with. I was a firm believer that you were either a novelist or a short story writer, and only the rare few could do both.

I might be changing my mind about that, and you’ll hear why in tomorrow’s column launch post from José Pablo Iriarte, one of my three short fiction contributors.

And on that note…let me introduce my short fiction contributors:

Rayne Hall is the author of over seventy books, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Her books have been published by several publishers in several countries, and translated into several languages. A trained publishing manager with more than thirty years’ experience in the industry, she also publishes her own books and champions indie-publishing for authors. She is the editor and publisher of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

Visit Rayne's website, or follow her on Twitter, or Facebook 

José Pablo Iriarte is a Cuban-American writer and teacher who lives in Central Florida. José’s fiction can be found in magazines such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, and others, and has been featured in best-of lists compiled by Tangent Online, Featured Futures, iO9, and Quick Sip Reviews, and on the SFWA Nebula Award Recommended Reading List. Jose’s novelette, “The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births,” was a Nebula Award Finalist and was long-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. 

Visit José's website, or follow him on Twitter.

Rachelle Shaw is an avid reader who has an incurable need to research everything she comes across. Rachelle is an author of young adult, paranormal, horror, and women's fiction books. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor and author while being a full-time mom to her children and a rather persnickety cat. When she’s not blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series, you can catch her gardening, baking cupcakes, or playing in the snow. 

Visit Rachelle's website.

There will be two to three posts a month from this trio, and I suspect I’ll have a few extra guest authors pop in to discuss short fiction, same as I do novels.

I’m super-excited about this new column, and not just because I struggle with short fiction myself. This is a market many writers aren’t exploring yet, and one more should definitely take a look at.

And if you’re not sure if short fiction is for you, that’s what this new column is all about.

The first column appears tomorrow, February 11. If you have any questions about writing shorter fiction, please let me know and I’ll pass them along to my contributors.


  1. Love it! I, too, had come to the same conclusion about working on short stories, etc.

  2. I'm very excited about this. Thank you. Outside of long ago in high school, I'd never attempted anything shorter than a novel. In 2015 I decided to give a short story a try and have written a few dozen since. In addition, the last couple of years I've written novelettes and novellas, too. There are elements of each length that I love. Even so, I have all these stories (yes, some are connected to longer works) and I'm not sure what I want to do with them, or even how to improve on what I've done. Thank you for this new column.

    1. You're welcome. You are not alone, and I hear this from more and more writers. It's nice to see the market for shorts taking off and expanding like this.

  3. Also Love it! I have been trying to adapt all your columns to shorter fiction - Short Stories - and they mostly work.

    1. Which is why I never really focused on shorts before, but it was time. There's enough that isn't covered here yet that can really help writers.

  4. Looking forward to the new column and hearing what the new 'professors' have to say!

  5. Thank you so much for this new column, Janice! In late 2019, I began self-publishing short stories, and this year I'll be publishing a series of novellas. I really enjoy the short form and look forward to learning more about it.

    1. Most welcome :) I'll be dipping my toe into it, so I'm looking forward to learning a lot as well. It's a market I never really wrote for.