7 Super Tips from Let’s Write a Short Story!

Today’s post is for writers in general but particularly for those who wish to write short stories. If you, like me, have a few dozen folders, printed or electronic, where you’ve stored those forgotten short stories, here is the book to help. I agreed to write a review of Joe Bunting’s book but couldn’t stop putting his suggestions into practice long enough to write the review. Until I had finished the book, that is, and reread all my stories applying his suggestions to them. And I felt energized and elated like I hadn’t felt since first I learned about sex. Well, not quite that long ago, but I was certainly charged up once more with the incomparable joy of writing. Here is what I posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Along the line of Let’s Write a Short Story! by Joe Bunting, I’m writing this review in a list format, so that I, too, can be straight to the point, yet include a lot of information.

1.  Accountability. Joe’s book starts right out asking the reader to promise to write and submit a short story to a literary magazine. He engages his readers by making them accountable. There is a curious satisfaction in doing that as the reader feels part of the process.

2.  How-to details are succinctly described and not lost in a lot of verbiage. Sort of like a short story which must be, well, short. “Besides length, one of the major things distinguishing short stories from other literary forms is they usually feature one major event. In this way, short stories are event-driven rather than character-driven.”

3.  The book has lots of helpful links just at the point where the reader is wondering how to approach a particular suggestion. These are like footnotes, only better, as the reader has the option to click and see so much more.

4.  He covers the five elements of storytelling in a short but complete list. This is a topic about which volumes have been written. Bunting assumes his readers (writers, after all)can fill in the spaces. Again, he mimics short story style in this way.

5.  Bunting has a way of challenging the reader to be the best he/she can be. He asks “What do you have to complete to die satisfied?” Wow! Talk about a cut-to-the-heart-of-the-matter question.

6.  The book also includes mundane but absolutely necessary notes on titles, correct format, fonts, weeding out weak words, spacing, margins and correct paragraphing for short stories.

7.  Oh, and finally, Bunting gives a concise accounting of rights and their reversion back to the author. He then proceeds to show what that author might do with them.

I planned to write this review last week but got so excited about following the book’s suggestions to revamp my own short stories that I needed more time. If that isn’t a telling comment about the effectiveness of Let’s Write a Short Story!, I don’t know what is.

Consider leaving a comment about writing your own short stories, whether you’ve written dozens or none, whether you’ve published them or not, and whether you, too, have found a wonderful book about writing them.



20 thoughts on “7 Super Tips from Let’s Write a Short Story!

    • That’s exactly how I reacted, too, Sherry. And I thought of you often, my short story writing friend, as I was reading his book. Today’s the last day before the price goes up on Amazon if you’re interested. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Sherry Isaac really is the short-story master. I loved each beautifully written story in her book, Story Teller.

    I’m glad you’re posting on this, Elaine. I think it’s great to add short-story publications to our writing credits. It builds credibility.

    Not that I think short stories are easy to write. Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said ‘I was going to write a short letter, but didn’t have the time, so I’m writing a long one.’

    Hope to see the ones you’ve got collecting dust bunnies sent out into the world soon!


    • You’re so right, Sharon. But I think learning to steep our stories in a small teapot till we get the most flavor out of them is good for any writer, whatever the writing vehicle. It’s taken me a long time to ‘get’ that.


  2. Sounds like a super book, Elaine. You have done a great job on the review, too. I don’t usually write short stories, but I do have a collection I wrote several years ago that I have compiled into a book, but haven’t tried to publish yet.


    • I think it’s interesting that so many of us have these collections, as though short stories must be our rite of passage to bigger things. These days I’m not sure that is the case. Sherry Isaac has spent a lot of time perfecting her craft and her twist endings really show that. So when are you going to take another look at those stories and get that book published?


      • Elaine, I should have done something about it before now. When I finished it I e-mailed it to a friend and he loved it. He said he would buy a copy when I got it published. That was before CreateSpace and most publishers don’t do short story collections. So it has been sitting in my file drawer ever since. I’m sure it needs some revision. I had several of the stories critiqued a few years ago, but it was when our group was new and we didn’t know much about how to critique, so most of the comments were that they were great. Little was suggested for changes. I think I should pull it out soon. I’ll let you know if I go to CreateSpace with it.


  3. You’ve sold me on the book, Elaine; excellent review. I saved a screen-shot to have a ready reference to the points, too. I have dozens of short stories; now I have dozens of rewrite chores for them. Thanks.


    • Hi Margaret! Check out the reviews of Joe’s book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and you’ll see that I’ve barely touched the surface. They mention many more excellent points in the book.


  4. Elaine, thanks for posting this article. I have two short stories pushed to the background, and I can’t wait to read Let’s Write a Short Story for some motivation. I’m not so much a procrastinator, but one who writes in several generas, switching back and forth a lot. The book seems to be one that would help me in that area. Can’t wait to purchase it.



    • My stories were exactly that–pushed aside mostly because I didn’t really know how to make them better. Heck, I didn’t even know what was wrong–or right–with them! Now I know where to go with them both to make them better and to publish them. It’s so empowering!


  5. Switching from writing long novels to novella was challenging, but I found I love writing short. And I think I could go shorter. I have written the real shorties for Women’s World magazine, that was a challenger. I believe they are 600 words? Try to get a whole plot into that! Hmm, that would make a great writing retreat challenge too. Sounds like a great book, Elaine!


    • Ok, I’m about ready for another retreat, Jessica. This time in a western, mountainous state…hmm…where might that be? How about a short story retreat with a few of the writing gang, new or old writing friends? I’m afraid it won’t be this fall. I’ve agreed to sing in a local rendition of The Music Man which will be starting practices next Tuesday night. Oh, what have I gotten into????


  6. You had me at ‘short stories’. Although I’ve written four and a bit novels (two undergoing final edits, the others still in files) shorts are where my heart is and have been since I started creative writing seven years ago. Since May 1st this year I’ve been writing a story a day, and posting them on my blog at 5pm every day (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/5pm-fiction). Deadlines get me writing and because I post two or three other items every day (interviews, guest blogs etc) they usually end up being flash fiction (average c.300 words) but they make me sparing with my words which even for a novel is no bad thing. 🙂


    • Morgen, I checked out your excellent blog and got tired just seeing all you are doing. A story a day! Wow! Love the title 5 pm fiction, too. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your excellent message.


      • You’re very welcome, Elaine. I get tired too but I enjoy it and am so grateful that all these wonderful writers want to be on my blog. 🙂 One of my interview questions is ‘do you write every day’ and many authors say “no” but they wished they did. I used to say the same so love being able to say “yes” and after all, 300 words = 100,000 words in a year. 🙂


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