Beginners Guide to Write and Publish a Short Story

I understand why Murakami chose to compare the writing of a short story with planting a garden. A short story reads like a breezy walk in the garden. Every word is thoughtfully chosen; every character has great significance. While writing a short story,  if you don’t pay close attention to the blooming Chrysanthemums and fragrant Jasmines, is it going to be a memorable walk?

But when you have about 5000 words to immerse your readers in your story, writing a short story can seem quite daunting. So, before you delve into the process of publishing, perhaps you can spend some time and carefully consider the various possibilities of writing a short story. The best thing about this genre is that it doesn’t need to be as stringent a structure as a novel.


To help you begin writing, here are 4 types of short stories you can write:


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An anecdote is a brief account of an interesting or amusing incident. It often involves experiences of real people. You can assume an anecdote to be a story shared over a dinner table conversation; a reminiscence from the past – something that is deeply moving, or witty and humorous. Anecdotes are generally short and crisp with emphasis on a few characters and a descriptive setting.


Flash Fiction 

Flash fiction is a short narrative ranging from 300 to 1000 words. It is widely appreciated among literary journals and magazines. They generally have an entire section dedicated to Flash fiction stories. This short piece of writing hooks the readers with an intriguing plot that drives the entire story.



A fable is a short story that tells a moral. It often includes mythical creatures, animals, and fantastical elements. Fables can even use inanimate objects and inspiration from nature to narrate a story. The animals in the story generally symbolize a deeper meaning akin to human behaviour. One of the most famous examples of fables is The Ant and the Grasshopper.



A vignette is a short piece that focuses on a single scene, idea, character, subject, or setting. It engages readers through dramatic dialogues and characters. While writing a Vignette, emphasise on language and style of writing. A unique voice will stand out and enthral the readers. Vignettes normally act as stand-alone pieces, therefore, think about how you can write a concise story using minimal elements.

Now that you have chosen a format that interests you, it is simpler to write your short story. Using any one of the formats, you can create an outline for your story. Pick a style that suits your story best in order to engage your readers.

Whichever type of short story you decide to write, here are some tips to make it a compelling story: 


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Pick up the pace!

While a novel takes a slower pace to reach a climax, a short story begins close to the end. To put it simply, plan out your plot and begin your story at the most interesting point. This grabs the reader’s interest instantly and keeps them hooked.


Have few characters 

When writing a short story, you don’t have time to get into the backgrounds of every character. Keeping this in mind, weave a story around a few significant characters – they can be as eccentric as you like. Give them a brief background story.


Dialogue on point

Every dialogue must add something to the story. Avoid small talk because it scarcely adds any value. Make it witty, humorous, and emotional. A good exchange between two characters that your reader might be rooting for, makes the story an enjoyable read.


Edit and trim

Get rid of repetitive words and unnecessary adverbs or adjectives. A concise short story is thrilling and suspenseful. Don’t get too caught up in tying loose ends together because unresolved endings work well too. Be a ruthless editor to turn your story into a magical piece of writing!

Once you’ve written your story, there are multiple platforms for you to showcase your work!

Here are 4 simple ways to publish your short story and reach a wider audience: 


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Writing Competitions 


Numerous online writing competitions happen every month. Most of these include free registrations too. This is a great way to write more, understand what is required to publish short stories, and of course, a wonderful opportunity to win and be recognized for your work! Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer, entering writing competitions is scary. But, it is never too late to take the plunge. Even if you don’t win, the experience boosts your confidence and pushes you to write more.


Literary Magazines 


Literary Magazines such as The Bombay Review, The Magnolia Review, and many others have a section dedicated to short stories. They are open to publishing new and emerging writers. Before you submit a short story to one of these magazines, make sure to read their already published articles to get a sense of their palette. Furthermore, carefully read the submission guidelines to avoid getting rejected for trivial reasons. Getting published in a Literary Magazine adds immense weightage to your portfolio and builds your credibility as a writer. These magazines are renowned for their work and publish a variety of genres ranging from Fables to experimental short stories.


Traditional Publishing 


The good old-fashioned way of publishing is always an option. You can take the Traditional Publishing route by sending your work to a publishing house. An agent will help you circulate your work and find you a suitable publisher. However, this is one of the more difficult routes because not many Traditional Publishing houses are looking to publish short stories by new writers.




This includes publishing your short story on a personal blog, website, or social media platform. The Notion Press Platform for publishing is also an option for you to publish your short stories in just a few simple steps! Notion Press allows you to have complete creative control over your work and the process of publishing. You can design your cover and edit your book with the help of top-grade tools. This self-service is completely free of charge. Once published, your book is available on leading e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Flipkart, along with the Notion Press website. You can earn 70% profits from your book sales and have complete ownership of your book! At Notion Press, we aim to share stories, spread ideas, change the world!


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Naqiyah Hasan

Naqiyah is pursuing a BFA in Creative Writing at Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology. She is an avid reader, writer, and book collector.

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