Writing Short Stories – Sort Of

Photograph of Henry James.

Photograph of Henry James. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short stories are the bane of my existence.  Okay, that might be a bit strong since plotting seems to be more of a bane.  And technically, if you really want to get down to brass tacks, I can write short stories, but I just don’t share them with the general population.  They are more , eh hem, adult in nature. 

However, recently I wrote a piece for a contest in my little valley, and the result was second place.  Not too shabby in my mind.  Those interested can read the short story, The Making of a Private Eye, by clicking said title <—–.

Well, the second place finish encouraged me to try my hand at trying to write more short stories.  Personally, I’m not that big a fan of short stories, the only one coming to mind that I enjoyed being Louis L’Amour’s The Diamond of Jeru.  I usually avoid reading short stories because I always feel like they are lacking.  Personal preference.  However, since I am terrible at plotting, why not try small plots?  I figure this might be a way to tackle getting this subject down and working on it.

I checked out a book of Henry James’ short stories from the library, and in the introduction it said that James wrote about eighty short stories [‘use the term for anything under 20,000 words, and we’ll avoid a good many arguments.’]  I thought to myself, wow, that’s pretty amazing.  Now, I know the name Henry James, but I have never read any of his work, so I am curious to see what he writes like.

I know, I just sort of randomly picked up a book of short stories. I could have picked D.H. Laurence, which I did at one point a while ago, or Ernest Hemingway, which I also did at one point a while ago.  Neither of those books were ever read.  So why James?  I can’t explain.  The book looked old and well worn, something I’m attracted to.

Argentine Tango

Part of the reason for my desire to try this short story thing is I have an idea of a story about this Argentine Tango dance courtesy of watching Dancing With the Stars.  I’m a sucker for the Argentine Tango, and I think it is one of the sexiest dances around.  There is so much passion involved.  So it got my mind thinking.

I’m hopeful that I will be able to plot it out and come up with something worth posting soon. 

So, for those interested, check out the second place finish short story and I’d love any feedback on writing short stories.  Oh, and at what point does flash fiction become a short story?

Writing on



4 thoughts on “Writing Short Stories – Sort Of

  1. Congratulations on winning second place! That’s wonderful encouragement on many levels. I myself keep away from contests, which to my mind is both self-protective and self-defeating.

    At any rate, I find short stories and novels challenging in their own way, similar to sprints and marathons. The short stories I love are extremely dense and rich, like pasta sauce that’s been boiled down to its essence. I admire short stories by Lori Moore, Chekhov, Alice Munro, Denis Johnson, Amy Hempel, and too many others to list here.

    On the other hand, one must be dedicated and organized to write anything long-form. I think writing a novel must require extending one’s vision and tying it all together.

    • Thank you so much, and yes, it was a nice bit of encouragement. Usually I’m not one to enter contests either, but it was a good way to step out of my comfort zone and show off my work to someone other than my friend or my editor. Granted, had I not placed at all, I would have been disappointed.

      I find writing anything with a plot a challenge. I’m never sure where I want a story to go. And while I have a basis for what I want, I have no idea how to make my characters strive to an end. What is their goal? I never know.

      I like how you describe short stories that are dense like pasta sause that has been boiled down. (makes me hungry. I have no idea who any of those authors are, so clearly I am going to have to check them out. Pardon, I have heard of Chekhov. So far I’m enjoying the one story I’m reading by Henry James. It’s a series of letters and it’s charming.

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