How to solve 80% of a short-story writer’s problems

If you’re a short story writer, and you have any of the following problems:

  • you’re just getting started and have no idea what you’re doing
  • you have trouble with character, plot, dialogue, or the essential building blocks of a story
  • you have nothing ready to submit to markets
  • you keep working and reworking the same story trying to get it right, but you’re never happy with it
  • you’ve completed several stories, but can’t figure out what’s wrong with them
  • you’ve completed several stories, know what’s wrong with them, and can’t figure out how to fix them
  • some of your drafts come out well, and some don’t, but you’re trying to salvage every story you write
  • all your stories are currently in circulation, so you have nothing new to submit
  • you’ve sent your stories to almost every possible market and you’re running out of appropriate ones
  • none of your stories in inventory suit the current markets you see available
  • you’ve sold some stories, but your inventory is dwindling
  • you’ve sold all your stories and have nothing left to circulate

…there’s one solution which will help with all these problems.


Too often writers (especially beginners) work and rework the same story. While of course there’s good reasons to revise, often the time you spend on that one story is better invested in writing 10 new ones. You’ll learn more from that than you will from trying to make a broken story work. And chances are, one of the new stories will be better than the old one anyway. Eventually it’s easier to see which stories are worth revising, and which ones are just learning experiences.

There’s more benefits too. New stories give you more material for circulation, thus increasing your chances for a sale. When you have several new stories, it’s easier to see which ones are worth your time for revision. Having lots of stories means each one matters less to you–which is a good thing, because it makes rejection easier to handle. So what if a market doesn’t buy a certain story? You’ve got five other great stories to choose from for your next submission.

There’s only a few exceptions to this advice–mostly for the people who write exceptionally fast and/or without much conscious effort. That’s not necessarily bad, but sometimes it’s useful to slow down a bit and reconsider things. These people can probably figure out who they are.

For most of us, writing another story is a fine way to solve many of our problems. Why don’t more writers do this? Because it’s hard work. Enough said.

So go write another story. Start one today.

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