Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career” as Want to Read:
How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  438 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Now, learn the master key for writing great short stories, and the strategies for using them to advance your writing career

As most writers will tell you, the hardest fiction form to master is the short story. To be successful, a short story needs to have "emotional wallop," and in under 7,000 words.

Not easy to do.

In this book, #1 bestselling writing teacher James
Kindle Edition, 126 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Compendium Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  438 ratings  ·  79 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career
Manuel Antão
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Cardamom Pod to Chew: "How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career" by James Scott Bell

Sushi is flipping delicious regardless of whether or not it's fashionable. It is tasty, tasty, tasty goodness, just the same as Toad in the Hole or a bowl of tomato soup with white plastic bread and butter. That is, when it’s not shit, but I guess it depends what we mean by shit. I've always found the real enemy of
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
As the title suggests, this short book by bestselling author James Scott Bell gives tips on writing short stories. The first four chapters give some hints for writing an engaging short story, though there wasn't a lot of detail. It assumes that readers already know the basics of creative writing and now want to branch into short stories. Chapters 5 and 6 give advice on how to publish short stories. Chapter 6 was particularly useful in providing step-by-step instructions for uploading your story ...more
J.A. Ironside
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I imagine if you are new to short form fiction, you will get more out of this than I did. There were one or two interesting nuggets but what it actually gained me could have been covered in a blog post. For perspective, 46% of this book deals with the titular subject matter (actually half of that deals with how to use kdp - and I disagreed with most of it...) The rest of the book is taken up with re-issues of short stories including the author's own. I'm not saying he shouldn't have taken the ...more
Gail Winfree
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
James Scott Bell's "How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career" gives a brief history of the short story and describes what makes a good publishable short story. He gives advice of how to publish your own stories that's quick and easy to grasp, and how to use those published stories to build a writing career. The book contains a bonus section of six excellent short stories that Bell uses as examples in his narrative.

I read this book in a few hours, finishing it
C.J. Darlington
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-how-to
James Scott Bell has a way of taking what could be a complicated subject and boiling it down in a way that's understandable and simple. There are books three times this length that explain how to write short stories, but by explaining in his matter-of-fact way, Bell gives us exactly what we need to write great short stories. I got my start writing them, and if I'd heard this advice back then it would've helped me a lot. Makes me want to fire up the computer and pound out some shorts!
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: creative-writing
Good enough. I like Bell's central point that all short fiction involves some kind of shattering moment—although I'm not 100% convinced, it still seems useful in most cases. But he takes a long time leading up to that point and then doesn't really expand much on the point. Most of the take-home lessons of this book could be conveyed in a good essay, and it feels like the book was expanded with a lot of filler to make it a marketable book. I'm glad I read it but I ultimately felt unsatisfied.
Rosey Waters
I'm not sure why I keep reading James Scott Bell and expecting him to have some new and brilliant insight into writing, but I do. I guess I just expected more from this book -- you've got a couple of chapters about the creative process that barely digs, and then five short fiction pieces. ???

Anyways, it's not that I disliked it, it was just... not what I expected and it kind of disappointed me as a result.
Debbie Johansson
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I found this book to be helpful, although I would have liked to have seen more information when it came to writing the short story. Half of the book is a guide to writing short stories, while the other half contains five short stories to illustrate his points (I would have preferred a chapter on a listing of recommended reading). A quick read, this is suitable for a writer who knows the craft, but has never delved into writing the short form before.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
The core of this book was a blog post by the author and the rest of the discussion simply expanded on that key insight - that what makes a good short story is the delivery of a single arc with an emotional "shattering" moment. Helpful but not $3.99 helpful?
Jeff Van Valer
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: craft-of-writing
Good outline of the nuts and bolts of what is important in a short story. Much of the book involved some great short stories, and there's nothing wrong with that. It'll definitely help me find a good short story or define one I'm writing. Not nearly as transcendent as JSB's books Write Your Novel From the Middle and Superstructure. But hey. In JSB's defense (and to his credit), those latter two are must-reads for any aspiring novelist. Reading his book How to Write Pulp Fiction at this time.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent little book for writers who need a break from long-form fiction writing but wish to keep their writing muscles in ship-shape condition. Focuses on structure of the short story format with plenty of examples. Also a major part of the book is devoted to Kindle publishing.
Katrina Roets
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it

The Good: There are some great tips about what makes a good short story and for those not familiar with Kindle Direct Publishing, there's a pretty decent walk through on how to get your books into e-book format and up on Amazon.

The Bad: Over half of this book is made up of short stories. When I bought the book, I was expecting a lot more information on actually writing stories. The author takes a bit of time to actually work up to what he considers the "key" is and then doesn't really expand a
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was interesting, but not J.S.B.'s best. In the first half of the book, Bell offers some practical advice on how to structure, write, and market short stories. His central insight is that "A great short story is about the fallout from one, shattering moment", and the most worthwhile sections explore what this "shattering moment" involves and different approaches to writing it. The second half of the book is a collection of short stories intended to illustrate how different authors ...more
Carolyn McBride
This was an okay book, although I expected a bit more for my money. The thing that disappointed me was that the first section covered great short stories, pointing out things that made specific stories noteworthy. But the writing styles of many of the examples aren't all that relevant today. The information doesn't really feel helpful until the second half of the book, and even then, anyone that's released anything on Amazon already, would already know the information presented.
So, for the
Jim Wilbourne
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is short and to the point with a few practical examples at the end.
I found it very helpful because I couldn't quite nail what short stories were doing and why.

This book seems geared towards storytellers who write long form stories. Provided you understand story writing in general, and come in with some general knowledge and experience with story telling, you'll be able to use this to take those skills and apply them to the short story form.

If that's who you are, pick it up. It'll be
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very nice guide to writing short stories - and doing it strategically with a view to building your career as a writer. Having written a few short stories just at random, I got some helpful insights into doing it more constructively.
Short, and over half of it is example short stories. Nice to read, but not what the title and description promise.
Brian Thornton
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful quick read which serves as an effective overview of what works in writing marketable short stories for this day and age.
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fairly short tome on writing and publishing short fiction. The thing I really liked about it was that it didn't diminish the importance of the short story. Short stories are still a good way to break into the literary world. Bell describes the key to a short story as being the "shattering moment." He discusses this key in depth and it really is helpful to read the examples he includes at the end of the book. The shattering moment takes up a good portion of the craft section of the ...more
Dennis Mitton
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like the book. As stated in other reviews, Bell writes a straight and to the point guide to a particular kind of short story. He's not writing as much for the Paris Review crowd as he is for writers of Asimov's. Description and literary niceties aren't his milieu. Stories that whack you upside the head are more the kind that he writes about. I think he would argue that for every 100 dollars you made selling your piece to a literary journal he made 1,000 selling to more entertaining magazines.

David Briscoe
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A short and very educating read.

I have read many books on the art of novel writing because the long story form has always been of deep interest to me. When I started out on my short story and novel writing course in August last year, my first assignment was to research the short story market and find out the submission details for at least ten publications in my genre. For the next part of this assignment I had to write my own short and send it to my tutor, along with the list of publications
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this easily in a day, because the information contained in this book could have been a blog post with links to short stories to illustrate the point. I say "point" (singular) because there was basically one idea that I'll share with you now: short stories have a "shattering moment." It can come before the story begins, at the start, at the middle, at the end, or it can be implied at the end. But there is something that will happen that will shatter your character's lives or expectations. ...more
Daniel Farrelly
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
When kindle recommended this to me, I thought "yeah why not?"

I'm so happy I bought it. This book is so helpful. So insightful. It's advice is straightforward and easy to understand, ranging from the obvious (though handy as a reference now it's put into words) to breakthrough ah-ha moments that truely do seem to unlock a sure fire secret for short story writing. Not to mention the extremely handy guide in the back of the book which goes through step by step on how to use kindle to get short
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Did you all ever watch Adaptation? You know, with Nic Cage, Meryl Streep, and, in a killer performance, Chris Cooper? This bit of dialogue comes to mind:

Time - Phrase
00:11:17 There are no rules, Donald.

00:11:19 And anybody who says there are is just, you know--

00:11:21 Not rules. Principles.

00:11:25 McKee writes that a rule says, "You must do it this way."

00:11:29 A principle says, "This works and has through all remembered time."

It wasn't quite like that, :). Nonetheless, when my work was
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's plenty of great advice specific to writing short stories in this book (obviously) and while I do disagree with a few points (such as you can get away with expositioning more backstory in short stories than novels) there are plenty of very solid ideas which I can see both in other's writing and my own and can work to deepen now I'm aware of it.
A good read for those who write short stories, and there might evenbe a few tid-bits worth taking into longer form too.
Carrie Daws
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I always appreciate a James Scott Bell book on writing because he tells you what to do (or what he recommends), gives an example, and pulls out all the fluff. This book was direct, quick to read, and easy to put into practice. After reading a plethora of short stories, he realized the one thing they all had in common, which he shares in the book. Then he goes into how to use that bit of knowledge and what to do with your stories once they are written.
Henry McLaughlin
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent overview of the unique craft of the short story. Focuses on creating the WOW, the emotional wallop, the shatter moment as Bell calls it. It's the element crucial to a successful story.
If you're thinking of writing short stories, add this to you craft shelf and study it for the insights into creating a great piece of short fiction.
Allen Bagby
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I Need to Write Some Short Stories

I've been wanting to write short stories to keep my name out there while I write my next novel. Got this book for ideas. Reading it revealed to me that I already had a lot short stories in my head. You can't go wrong with a Bell book. I've read a lot of his books and they never fail to deliver solid value.
JR Simons
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Just One Simple Concept

This probably should have been edited down into an article for a magazine like Writers Digest rather than marketed as a book. That one simple concept is valuable, but the author could have spent time pointing it out in the examples rather than leazving it up to the reader to spot it in each example.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When you are a newcomer to writing I can recommend this book to you. It is well written and gives clear advice how to write short stories. The collection of short stories from well-known authors was a good bonus. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter
  • How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method
  • Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)
  • Understanding Show, Don't Tell: (And Really Getting It) (Skill Builders Series Book 1)
  • Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly
  • Becoming a Writer
  • The Art of X-Ray Reading
  • 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 6)
  • The Easy Way to Write Short Stories That Sell
  • Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, Scene Construction
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Emotion Amplifiers
  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes
  • Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
  • If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
  • The Yellow House
  • Zen in the Art of Writing
See similar books…
Jim is a former trial lawyer who now writes and speaks full time. He is the bestselling author of Try Dying, No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Glimpses of Paradise, Breach of Promise and several other thrillers. He is a winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction, and was a fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. He has written two books in the Writers' Digest ...more
“While there is some disagreement over the official length of a short story, a good rule of thumb is that it is between 1k and 7k words. Less than that and you get into the area of flash fiction. More than that and you move into the territory of the novelette (7k -20k) or the novella (20k-50k).” 2 likes
“The “feel” of a short story should be that it follows one trajectory, or arc. It concerns a character (or, in some cases, a group) heading through one primary crisis or concern.” 1 likes
More quotes…