Writing Short Stories & Essay Writing

Writing short stories, fiction and essays isn’t easy – in fact, the relative brevity of these pieces can make them even more challenging to create. Inside you’ll learn the best techniques for doing it well, and using those pieces as a springboard for lengthier works.

How to Take Your Short Stories to the Next Level

Are you writing a short story? The first short story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade. It was about a fictitious solar system of salad toppings. No joke. I remember pacing around the house, dictating ideas, plot and dialogue into my mom's hand-held tape recorder and, eventually, piecing it...

How to Broaden Your Short Story’s Scope

Most short stories illumine a single dark corner, narrowly circumscribed. They follow the time-revered rule: Limit your short story to a specific time, place, event, interaction or character’s evolution. But the short story can be a more versatile genre than your high school English teacher sermonized. If we stick to too...

Selling Short Story Short: An Interview with ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer is the author of the short-story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, a PEN/Faulkner finalist that was selected for the “Today” show book club by John Updike. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope: All-Story and The Best American Short Stories, and have been read on...

10 Ways to Start Your Story Better

A good opening line is a powerful thing: It can grab an editor’s attention, set the tone for the rest of the piece, and make sure readers stay through The End. Here are 10 ways to steer your story toward success.

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

To help you successfully complete your book in 30 days, here are nine worksheets to help you keep track of plot, scenes, characters and revisions. All of these worksheets originally appeared in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and were also featured in the special issue

From Idea to Page in 4 Simple Steps

Nothing is more exciting than the promise of a story in your head, but in order to get it on the page you need to figure out exactly what you need to do to make it work. Here are 4 steps to help you build the framework of your story.

How to Weave in Backstory to Reveal Character

Creating characters’ backstories before you start writing is crucial because you’ll want to determine each one’s past experiences and the repercussions these experiences will have on your story before you begin. Here's a close look at the different ways you can introduce backstory.

by Rachel Ballon

Beginnings

Read chapter 9, "Beginnings," from The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction, Volume 1: Building Blocks