Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nine Reasons to Write Short Stories

By Jeanine McAdam

When Maria asked me to write for the RWA-NYC blog I knew I would blog about the short story market. Immediately I came up with a bunch of thoughts. The next step was to organize them into a meaningful entry. That’s where I got stuck. After mulling over different ideas I decided to create a top ten list of the reasons I write short stories. Sort of like David Letterman…. except that my list ended at nine. When I couldn’t come up with the tenth, I let myself off the hook and accepted the fact that I work in the short story market.

9) My stories are being bought.  There are numerous markets contracting romantic short stories. Dorchester Media’s four confession magazines publish 10-12 stories a month. Plus, New Love Stories Magazine and e-anthologies offer plenty of opportunities.

8) Ability to sell rejected stories. If one of my stories is rejected, I never delete it or bury it in an absurd folder on my computer. Two years ago, True Love rejected a story I wrote set on a rural college campus. A year later, I sold it to True Romance. Furthermore, when I was unable to sell a story to one editor at True Romance, after she left the company, I resubmitted the story to her predecessor and she bought it. (Note – I did tell the predecessor the story had already been rejected.)

7) A chance to practice the one line pitch. Every story I submit I write a short synopsis highlighting the characters and conflict. I’ve gained lots of confidence and increased my skills tremendously at targeting the heart of the narrative and narrowing it down to a few words.

6) Opportunity to learn how to write in different genres. Besides romance I’ve submitted stories to the children’s and horror markets. Currently, I am working on a gay love story. Each of these diverse genres give me the chance to hone my skills, sharpen my voice and learn their conventions.

5) Improve my skills at flushing out motivation and conflict using only 5,000 to 7,000 words. Every month I’m creating two new characters, defining their strengths and weaknesses and constructing a problem.

4) Work with an editor regularly. At Dorchester Media, I’ve worked with the same editor for over a year now. I’ve gotten to know her style, likes and dislikes; plus, learned more about the editorial process.

3) Ability to expand into new markets. My most recent story “Inhuman Resources,” appearing in the anthology HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE, is a zombie romance. It will be marketed to both horror and romance readers. I’m hoping to continue to work in the horror market and increase my readership.

2) Forced me to be a writer. When I started writing short stories I made an agreement with myself to submit a story every month. As I result of that commitment, I write through the ups and downs of my personal life. I write when I don’t have an idea, and I write when the words barely form a complete sentence. After I finish writing, I submit by the second week of every month.

1) Last but not least, the number one reason I write short stories is because I am participating in my chosen profession. My stories define me as a writer. When people ask what I do, I say proudly, “I am a short story writer.” Plus, it’s great to get paid for my work!♥

BIO: Jeanine McAdam has published over twenty two short stories with the Dorchester Media “true confession” line of magazines during the past two years. Working as a reference librarian for seven years, Jeanine always loved books and helping patrons find great fiction. In her profession as a technology trainer, she wrote instructional materials and contributed to technology newsletters. When she began inserting romance, intrigue and a touch horror into the manuals she knew it was time to start her career as a short story writer. Look for her short story, “InHuman Resources” in the HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE: An Anthology of Zombie Romance, from Ravenous Romance ( And look for her confession, "Snowboard Baby", in the December 2009 issue of True Romance.


  1. I love the Top 9, Jeanine! Great post! I'm so glad I got to hear you speak at the chapter meeting earlier this year or I never would have known about confessions. I love this market and hope to sell many more stories in the future! :)

  2. Loved reading this. Short stories are a great starting point and introduction for writers. Many of our RR novelists came to us from our in-house anthologies.

  3. Can't beat success, Jeanine! And you certainly have that. This is definitely a keeper post, and another terrific reason to never restrict yourself to a single format, or story length. Short or long, a great story is just that. Good luck with all the great stories still in your future.

  4. Love the list, Jeanine and congrats on your success! I loved the workshop you and Patt did for us on writing short fiction. Being a writer is about writing and you are totally right with all of your 9 tips.

  5. Jeanine, you're a very dedicated and disciplined writer. I'm impressed!


  6. I also attending the meeting where you and Patt talked about the short story market. For years I have felt cheated because everyone talks about writing novels. Been there, don't that--more than a few times. But short stories are what I really want to do.

    I loved your list of the "Top Nine" Thanks for your program and this blog. It gives a short story writer hope.

    Pat Marinelli

  7. Great post, and very inspirational. I've recently sold two shorts to the Trues. I find I love writing short stories. I like your idea of writing a story a month. I may do that too.

    Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

  8. Great post Jeanine and wonderful reasons. I'm so proud of your success.

  9. Wonderful post Jeanine. Your list is the perfect gift for the holiday season.
    Congratulations on your recent success.