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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2017 > How long is short?

How long is short?

Pad, cut or write to order? A former journalist wonders how long his short stories should be, with Jane Wenham-Jones


After many years as a professional writer – mostly writing articles for trade magazines and providing technical copy for websites and brochures – I have retired from paid work and have turned my hand to short stories. I am writing these for pleasure at the moment, at the rate of two or three a week, but when I have honed my craft, I would like to enter some competitions and try my hand at the women’s magazine market. (My wife seems to read all of them so I have plenty of research material at hand!) I understand submissions are accepted from both genders but I have one fatal problem. I can see these stories are either around 1,000 or 2,000 words. Yet every story I write comes out at almost exactly 1,500. If I shorten, I find I have lost too much plot-wise and if I pad them out, I fear it shows. I have also been told that 1,500 is rather short for a “literary” tale that would go down well in a competition. Any thoughts?

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WIN!! More than £500,000 of writing prizes in your free Competition Supplement, with information about hundreds of writing competitions for you to enter in 2017 Find out how you can apply the winning formula to your writing: • How to win writing competitions • Short story structure made simple • Reach 'The End' of your novel Also in this issue, read our star interview with bestselling 'Me Before You' author Jojo Moyes on writing romance the modern way, and find out if crowdfunding might be the smart new way to publish your book. • Writers News is 20 packed pages of news you can use, including 30 paying markets and 51 opportunities to get your writing into print. asasaasasasass

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