Tackling Short Fiction

So…we’ve talked quite a bit about writing novels. What if your story can be told in fewer than 40k words? What if only 5k – or fewer – could do the trick?

Short fiction is a beast all in itself. Not only are you tasked with telling a complete story with definitive beginning, middle and end – the reader should find your character(s) reasonably relatable. While novels provide you space to build your exposition such as backstory, a short story might demonstrating a character’s motives better through showing via events – say, your story can begin with a sudden event that changes their life forever. While this can also happen with the main character in a novel, the protagonist’s journey in short fiction will contain a lot more bang, bang, bang.

A simple blueprint I have found works:

1) Inciting incident: Protagonist encounters another man claiming to harbor untold secret knowledge of ancient Egypt, wisdom that could destroy the foundation of the Abrahamic religions as we know them.

2) Reacting to the inciting incident: to pave the way for resolution of an impending conflict: Protagonist sets out to confirm this claim, soon validating the existence and legitimacy of this knowledge.

3) Conflict resolution: Working together with his informant, protagonist helps to thwart a terror attack by using the knowledge both have gained surrounding secret technology.


Once you crack out the content according to that blueprint, the necessary shaving of excess material to reach your target word count will come after plenty of revision.


Now…who are the top markets for short fiction? Turns out there are many, ranging from flash fiction (below 1k) to long short story (about 8k). Below, I’ve listed just a few popular platforms looking to publish short pieces in multiple genres:

Flash Fiction Online (All)
Crazyhorse (All)
The Sun Magazine (All)
Clarkesworld (Sci-Fi)
Daily Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)
Microfiction Monday Magazine (All)
Trembling with Fear (Horror)


Those of you who have published short fiction, which platforms do you recommend?

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