20 Short Stories That Will Make You A Better Writer

Don’t try to write short stories without reading some. Here are 10 modern and 10 classic stories to get you started.

Reading in front of the fire

Chosen by members of the StoryADay Superstars community

  • Perhaps you want to write short stories because novels seem overwhelming.
  • Perhaps you’ve been told that you ought to start with short stories.
  • Perhaps you read a short story you loved and thought “I want to do that!”

The rules for novels and movies don’t apply to short stories. Part of the fun of short story writing is that the form is so flexible.But how would you know that if you’re not reading them?.

Here are 20 great short stories you should read, suggestesd by the StoryADay community.

Each story is either a classic or one that stuck in the reader’s head for years.

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What if writing was inevitable?

Does writing have to be a struggle? What if your writing felt inevitable? What impact would that have on your life?

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Change is inevitable. Why not writing?

StoryADay September has finished and NaNoWriMo doesn’t start for another month. 

But do you have a plan for October?

If not, you could find yourself, two weeks from now having written nothing,  unsure of what you want to be writing, struggling to find your rhythm again.

Use Your Powerful Imagination

Imagine, instead, that you had a plan for the first two weeks of October. What would that look like?

Continue reading “What if writing was inevitable?”

The Five Most Romantic Things You Can Do for the Writer in Your Life

This guest post, from Michele Reisinger, combines the wisdom of many of the StoryADay Superstars. Make sure to leave this open in a browser for the people in your life to ‘accidentally’ read! 😉

My husband would deny it, but he is a romantic at heart.

We’re all struggling with the effects of pandemic pandemonium,  but recently he’s given me some pretty awesome gifts that have not only helped me cope with our “new normal,” but also develop a writing practice that will last far beyond this shared crisis.

Even better, while their value to me is priceless, their cost was almost zero. As writer Chari Schoen points out, “Sometimes it is just the little things” that mean the most.

So, what are the most romantic things you can do for the writer in your life?

My amazing cohorts in StoryADay’s Superstars shared their stories and wish lists.

Continue reading “The Five Most Romantic Things You Can Do for the Writer in Your Life”

Don’t Let Shame Kill Your Creativity

In this video post I talk about how shame shuts down the exact processes we need for creativity and what you can do about it.

Spoiler alert: I talk about reducing your expectations, celebrating every single tiny thing you do that contributes to your writing life, and collecting Story Sparks.

Find out more about Story Sparks here

Let’s Stick Together – in the StoryADay Cafe

Something I do with the StoryADay Superstars, is get together once in a while for writing sprints.

During this next couple of weeks, when everyone is isolating physically, I thought it might be helpful to open that up to the whole community. So you’re invited to join us for some writing dates!

When

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How Can Our Community Help You?

A live video I recorded earlier this week full of positive ways to ride this thing out

The herd instinct is only a problem if you’re following the wrong herd. 

Let’s see if we can put it to good use. Let’s circle the StoryADay wagons and help each other to write more of the stories that people need to hear—to distract them, to entertain them, to uplift and connect them.

Some things I’ve shared with people over the past few days

  • This is a wonderful time to catch up on your reading. Everyone has a pile of books they’ve been meaning to get to. Turn off the TV and open those books!
  • If you can’t get to a writing group because you need to protect your health, ask other people to turn on the voice memo feature on their phone and record the group discussion for you.
  • If you’re a member of a real-life writing group, ask the organizer to sign up for a free Zoom account. You can get everyone together for 40 minutes at a time under the free account, and chat about writing, or hold your critique meeting, or whatever you usually do.
  • You don’t have to be writing fiction if it doesn’t feel right, just now. Write letters to friends you haven’t seen recently. Write journal entries. Work on a non-fiction project you’ve been meaning to get to. Advocate for a favorite charity or write postcards for a political candidate’s campaign.
  • Use writing prompts to write tiny, throwaway stories that are only intended to amuse and distract yourself.

What other ideas do you have?

What can I do to help you?

  • Do you need an online writing hangouts this week, to keep you from obsessing about the news, or keep you sane while you work from home?
  • Do you need daily SWAGr check-ins at StoryADay.org for the next week, to keep you accountable?
  • Would it be helpful if I put together a bundle of links to the most popular articles on the site, so you can read something that isn’t virus-related?

Is there something else I can do to help you?

Leave a comment and tell me how you’re doing, and what you need. Also, if you’ve found something that helps you, please share that too!

When To Abandon A Short Story

Hand holding a full black plastic trash bag

I gave up on a story today.

It wasn’t a horribly-written story. In fact, it had amused me and a couple of other people who’d read it. My critique group had given me stunningly insightful feedback on what I needed to do to take it from ‘promising’ to ‘good’.

But instead, I put it away and will probably never look at it again.

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Give Up On A Story?

This is a question that comes up surprisingly often among writers.

Wouldn’t you think we’d KNOW if a story was worth working on, or whether it should be consigned to the darkest recesses of our cloud drives, never to be accessed again?

Continue reading “When To Abandon A Short Story”

Mastering The Middle – Episode 144

Last week in the podcast, I shared five tips for a successful NaNoWriMo. Lots of people have told me it helped get them through the first week so: yay!

victory

In this week’s episode I talk about the difficulties of reaching the middle of creativity challenge at the exact same moment you reach the midpoint of the novel.

(Short story writers, stay with me because a lot of what I’m going to talk about applies to you too!)

You are not imagining things: this is hard. The middle of a novel is the notoriously hard, and the middle of the challenge is hard for different reasons.

The Midpoint of the Challenge

The midpoint of the challenge is tough because you’re tired. The novelty has worn off. You’ve started to question why are you ever decided to put in all this work. And you may feel that your story isn’t worth the effort.

Allow me to help.

Continue reading “Mastering The Middle – Episode 144”

5 Tips for A Successful NaNoWriMo

It is November and you know what that means? The whole writing world has been taken over by NaNoWriMo. 

As someone who has been participating in and leading creative challenges for over a decade, I have some tips to help you make the most of this month of extreme creativity.

Continue reading “5 Tips for A Successful NaNoWriMo”