Short stories have a long history starting with the oral traditions of our ancestors. This was taken up by cave painters, and so it continued to the short stories we read today. There are many excellent examples of short stories throughout history. One notable example is the bible and in particular the parables.
Length is something which is often much debated. It is generally accepted that 1000 - 7500 words can be considered a short story. If you are submitting to competitions often there is an upper cap at the lower end of the scale. There is a six word short story attributed to Ernest Hemmingway but this may be an urban legend. It is "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."
Whatever the length, short stories need to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The same as any other piece of writing. Every word in the story counts and must serve to drive the plot/action/story forward. There is no room for extraneous words or rambling thoughts. Unless your story is about someone with Alzheimers perhaps. Even then the rambling thoughts must be tightly crafted. Editing is crucial to remove anything which does not support the story.
Characters are also important in a short story. Some say that short stories are mainly character driven. The number of characters is crucial. Keep the cast small. This allows for the characters to be properly developed and for the reader to get to know them. Characterization needs to be tight as does the description of the character. Rather than saying she had short pink hair and a strange taste in clothes, how about - She crammed a fedora on to tame her pink hair.
So why am I discussing short stories on my Bookaholic blog today? The reasons are twofold. Firstly, I have recently published a short story in an anthology - Another Flash in the Pen. I am delighted to be included with many highly talented authors. The stories are eclectic and cover the gamut of genres. If you would like to know more copies are available from Amazon
If you've never written a short story why not have a go today. The Competiton would be a good place to start. Think about the Good Samaritans you meet every day and craft a story with one person as the hero, one as the victim, and one the protagonist. Or you could really pare it down and use one character only. Whatever you decide. Now is your chance.