I have been writing a lot of short fiction lately. I’ve also been reading and studying short fiction, as that’s a major focus of the grad program I’m in. The other day, I was looking for online journals where I could submit my short fiction, and read their guidelines. One place insisted that short fiction should be about distinct moments packed with emotion, rather than shocking twists. Another just stated the REASON for the short story should be clear, and it needs to be more than showing off some clever writing. In essence, short fiction needs emotional impact every bit as much as novels do, if not more.
I started thinking about what the classic short stories I’ve read in the last few months all have in common, in addition to what I’ve learned in fiction writing workshops. I came up with a scattered sort of checklist that I plan to refer back to as I continue to write and submit my short fiction. I hope it might help other writers who are in the same boat!