Saturday, October 29, 2011

Editor Emma Lai On Writing Shorts

I'm very pleased to have Emma Lai here today. I have been blessed with some extraordinary critique partners and now I can see why. So here is an editor giving you an inside look into writing short stories and when you get a chance check out the submission guidelines for both her presses. Take it away Emma.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is only days away. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it’s a challenge to writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in a month. The goal is to get writers to write and not worry about mistakes or edits. (For more information visit
Neither Twenty or Less Press ( or Sybarite Seductions ( publishes stories above 20,000 words, so why would I, as an editor for the presses, be interested in novel writing? Because like NaNoWriMo, short stories are a way to get writers to write, to explore different facets of the craft. And because there’s no reason those stories can’t be polished for publication.
But, you say, I’ve never written a short story. 
Sure you have. Anytime you write a scene, you’re writing a short story. Think about it. Scenes have a beginning, middle and end. The key is to find that critical point in your story idea and write that scene and whatever supporting scenes and information are needed to maximize the impact.
Consider the following premise: two friends having a falling out and go their separate ways. They meet again years later. What happens? 
Keep it simple. What was the reason for the disagreement? What’s the simplest, most fun, sexiest, most dramatic, etc. thing you can think of to bring them back together, or even send them spinning off their separate ways forever? 
Congratulations, you just outlined a short. 
And just because it’s short doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve the same editing attention as a novel. It’s my job as an editor to ensure delivery of the best quality stories, regardless of length. I’m demanding. I’m exacting. I will read and reread stories; make comments; ask questions; suggest verbs, phrasing and words; and question the thoughts behind actions, but I will also answer questions, listen to concerns, and above all, I will respect the author’s creative decisions. 
So, if you’re up to the challenge of writing shorts for me, submit your story or story idea to Twenty or Less Press (fiction, including sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, and women’s) at or Sybarite Seductions (erotica) at
In the meantime, what questions about writing shorts do you have?


wlynnchantale said...

Hi Emma. Thank you so much for being here today. Help yourself to the decadent delights overflowing the buffet tables. And my bartenders Witches' Brew delivers a serious kick. So if you have more than one cup one the sexy cabana boys will be more than happy to walk you home.

Are you doing NaNo this year? I know I want to, but don't know what I'm going to write.

Bianca Swan said...

I have written several short stories and recently tried my hand at flash fiction for a blog on Halloween. I'm glad to know there is a new market for them. Thanks Emma!

P.L. Parker said...

Hi Emma - I'm not usually a short story writer, have put my hand to a few, but I usually have too much to say. Interesting post!

Emma Lai said...

Thanks for the guest spot, W. Lynn! Sorry, I'm late. Was off visiting the grandparents for the weekend.

I won't be participating in NaNo. Maybe when life is less hectic? I did start a story this weekend though and hammered out 4k. Yay!

Emma Lai said...

Thanks for stopping by Bianca and P.L. I not only enjoy writing shorts, but reading them as well...obviously. :)