'These darkly comic tales place the author snugly between Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Be sure: Chris Fielden is one funny feller.' Allen Ashley, British Fantasy Award winner.
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Writing Tips & Advice

How to Write & Publish a Short Story

Quick links on this page:

Short Story Writing Tips

Below are some writing tips and advice which, in my humble opinion, can help you write better short stories and give you a much better chance of being published. They are based on my own experiences of writing and publishing stories, so I’m not just spouting nonsense (I hope).

Some of the points might seem like I’m stating the bleeding obvious, but sometimes common sense needs to be kept abreast of what’s common and sensible. Plus, it can be reassuring to know that other people have already found success by practicing tactics you intend to employ - I’ve certainly found this encouraging and helpful in the past.

I hope the advice is useful.

If you have any tips you’d like to share, please get in touch.

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Writing Competitions

Short Story Writing Contests

For writing competitions and other short story publishing opportunities, see the links below:

Free Short Story Writing Course

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Preparation & Research

Read a Lot & Write a Lot

I find being hands on is the best way to learn. You need to read a wide variety of books and short stories. Then you need to write a lot to hone your writing skills and style. It’s like anything - practice does make perfect.

For example, I had a drum teacher called Terry O’Brien. He came from a military background. When he taught me a new rhythm, first I’d listen to him play it and then he’d make me play it 100 times while pacing around the room encouraging me, albeit in a Full Metal Jacket style while puffing on cigarettes. After 100 repetitions, I’d be able to play the rhythm.

Exactly the same principle applies to writing. The more you read and write, the better you become. The main difference with the drumming analogy is that it’s probably best not to have an angry sergeant shouting at you the whole time - it doesn’t do much to aid concentration.


Get your eyeballs roving through loads of books. What do you like? Why? Read more. What don’t you like? Why? Read more.

There are many magazines (I recommend Scribble and Writers’ Forum) and websites which can give you access to inventive and inspiring stories. But also consider reading short story collections by authors like Roald Dahl, Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and other renowned short story writers. Why are their stories so successful? What makes them good? You can learn a lot from reading the work of quality authors – they have a large readership for good reason.


Get your fingers on the keyboard and write. Then try and look at your work with the same critical, unbiased eye you use when reading someone else’s work. What do you like? Why? Write more. What don’t you like? Why? Edit accordingly.

You’ve read. You’ve practiced. What do you do next?

Research Your Market

This is probably the most important piece of advice I can offer. I know, all writing resources say the same thing, but that’s because it’s true.

If you’re starting out in short story writing and want a chance to win a competition, the best way to begin is by reading the previous winning stories so you can see what style the judges seem to prefer. If there are any comments about the stories the judges have chosen, read them and learn from them. Then write a story with what you’ve learned in mind.

It’s the same with approaching magazines. Buy a back issue. Read it. Learn what style the editor seems to favour. Would your style fit? What edits can you make to give yourself a better chance?

OK, now it’s time to start writing for real. Below are some tricks I use which often work.

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Writing Tips & Advice

writing advice, how to write a short story

Keep it Simple

Don’t crowd a story with too many characters. Loads of different names confuse readers.

Yes, I’m a drummer and have the attention span of a tiny fish, so I favour simplicity. But having only 1,000 to 5,000 words (ish – most short story competitions have word count limits between these figures) doesn’t give a lot of room for character development, especially if you’re introducing a reader to an entire football team. One, two or three central characters seem to work best to me.

Choose Character Names Carefully

Don't confuse readers by using names which sound too similar. If you write a story about Ken, Len and Ben, it's going to be hard to keep track of which character is which. Carter, Bronson and McGregor will be much easier for a reader to identify.

Use Novel Characters in Short Stories

If you’re writing a novel, use the book’s characters in your short stories. You’ll be so familiar with them, they should be easy to write and add believability to your short tale. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to test them out. Do they work? Do readers identify with them? Did they help you win a competition or get noticed by a magazine editor? If so, that bodes well for your novel. If not, you can catch problems early and fix them.

You can also use simplified sections of your novel’s plot for a short story, again, testing them out. Most novels have sub plots which will often make excellent short stories.

Short Story Writing Course

Short Story Titles

Give your story title the attention it deserves – if you don’t take the time to come up with an interesting title for your story, why should anyone take the time to read it? Make them enticing and entertaining.

If you need inspiration, buy a magazine like Scribble (which has lots of short stories in each issue) and see which titles stand out. Which stories do you feel drawn to, just by reading the title?

Beginning a Story

Try and make the first few paragraphs of your story gripping. Use hooks to grab the reader’s attention from the off. A good way of doing this is by providing a question the reader will want answered early on. For example:

I’m tied to a tree, living a nightmare set amongst a panorama of beauty. Over the past week I’ve been dragged up a mountain by my captor, his cruel eyes betraying a desire to which he’s unable to succumb. He needs me as he believes me to be – untouched.

This is taken from my story, The Treasure No Thief Can Steal which was published in Scribble. This opening paragraph sets the scene and places questions in the reader’s mind: Why has the narrator been dragged up a mountain? Why must she be untouched? What will her captor do when he finds out she isn’t virginal? My aim is to engage with the reader from the off, (hopefully) making them want to read more.

Dialogue & Speech

Dialogue can develop character and drive the plot forward. Use it to do both. For example:

‘I’m sorry to interrupt at such an ungodly hour,’ he says, his voice as deep as hell’s gong. ‘Put the gun away. It is useless to you.’

I do as he commands, not because I want to, but because I am unable to disobey. There’s a mesmerising quality to his voice which I realise I will have to fight if I want to act of my own free will.

‘You are Sergeant Joshua Purvis?’ he says.

I’m aware that I’m gawping. I try and say, ‘Yes,’ but all that emanates from my mouth is a kind of slurping mumble. I decide to forget talking for a moment and just nod.

‘Do you know who I am?’

‘Satan?’ I guess, pleased that I manage not to drool as I force the word from my mouth.

He snorts laughter, smoke spiralling from the holes in his face which I assume must be nostrils. ‘No,’ he says. ‘My name is Colin.’

I hear myself snigger.

‘I’ve taken a human name to seem less threatening,’ Colin continues, in a tone that suggests he is only imparting this information so he won’t find it necessary to tear my head off. ‘Names aside, you must concur, my master has excelled with the physical manifestation conjured for my eternal servitude?’

This is taken from another one of my stories, Devil’s Crush, which was published in Writers’ Forum. Joshua, a legless war veteran, has just discovered Colin, a demon, in his kitchen. I’m trying to allow the reader to learn about Colin through his speech, interspersed with the visual hints necessary to maintain the image of a demon in the reader’s mind. At the same time, I’m attempting to push the story forwards, by imparting information in the verbal exchange which builds character and plot. This is an important technique with short stories as, with strict limitations on word count, you have to make every word count. And throughout, I’ve also tried to use humour, keeping the style consistent. Have I succeeded? You tell me.

Ensure dialogue sounds convincing. If you’re unsure, read it aloud. Speaking the words can help you determine if the dialogue is working with you or sabotaging your plans with the deployment of excessive commas, adverbs and the use of perfect English even though no one ever says it that way out loud.

Situations & Characters

Concentrate on how the situation and the events in the story affect or change the central character.

I received this advice when I attended a ‘how to write a synopsis’ course at the Folk House in Bristol. It was run by a published writer called Billy Muir and was well worth the money. He suggested treating a synopsis like a short story - as you have so few words, use the central character to show how the events of the plot affect and change them. Interesting and sound advice – it works, and helped my short story writing greatly.

Sadly, I still can’t seem to write a decent novel synopsis, but that’s a different story…

Maintain Believability

Don’t make a character act in a certain way to suit your plot. Keep characters in character at all times. Let the character react to the situation as they would react, not as the plot dictates to be necessary. This helps believability and will make your story stronger.

Avoid Cliché

Always find a new and interesting way of saying something, rather than going for hackneyed phrases which have been used a gazillion times before. The only time I intentionally make exceptions to this rule is in dialogue, if I feel the character is likely to use clichés, although this is still best used sparingly.

Writing with an End in Mind

I’m not a fan of excessive plotting as I find it can be too restrictive on the imagination as you write. But having an end planned helps you drive the story in the right direction as you create it. Without an end goal, the plot can twist into an unsalvageable mess.

How to End a Short Story

Make the end of the story satisfying for the reader. Stories which fail to answer all the questions raised or resolve the situation can be disappointing. I know, this is a matter of taste, but satisfying endings appeal to the majority of readers. No, I’m not a fan of David Lynch.

Hopeful endings seem to work well. Again, this is personal taste and not appropriate for every occasion, but I’ve found tales that offer hope deliver a satisfying conclusion for the reader and have a good success rate in competitions.

You’ve written a masterpiece. What should you consider when entering competitions and approaching editors?

Obey the Rules

When entering a competition, read and obey the rules. If you don’t, you’ll be disqualified. When approaching a magazine editor with your work, read and abide by their submission criteria. If you don’t, your work will not be considered.

See what I mean about the bleeding obvious? Well, I mention this for good reason.

I’m currently involved with running the GKBCinc short story competition and the amount of entries that don’t comply with the rules is astounding. By undertaking this simple step, you put yourself ahead of about a fifth of the competition. Yes, that’s right. One fifth. Literally.


If you have to write covering letters (more common with approaching magazine editors than short story competition judges), keep them concise, informative and professional. And give it the same attention as your stories. A covering letter filled with typos looks awful.

Personalising a letter, rather than just sending a generic ‘to whom it may concern’ type creation, can also mean your work is more likely to be read. And if you can slip in a genuine, researched compliment, the person you’re writing to is likely to appreciate it. I’m not talking about a ‘your magazine is great’ kind of comment, I mean an ‘I particularly enjoyed the story by Mavis Von-Dinkle-Burp in your last issue - I was impressed with the realistic dialogue between the spider and the fly’ kind of comment - something that shows you’ve actually read the magazine and give a shit.

If you are fortunate enough to receive feedback from short story competition judges or magazine editors, read and learn from any constructive criticism they might offer. If you become angry and write snotty, argumentative replies, you destroy relationships. Be thankful they have replied to you. In these rare instances, the criticism is coming from a professional. Read it. Learn from it. Use it in a constructive way. Thank them for it. If you think it’s appropriate, ask if they’d be interested in considering the story again once you’ve edited it.

Never Give Up

If you think a story is worth writing, write it. Don’t listen to anyone else, including the Demon of Doubt who whistles his merry tune inside everyone’s head from time to time. Just do it.

If you don’t win the first competition you enter, don’t give up. What fails to appeal to one short story competition judge or magazine editor may still appeal to another. You will see that a lot of the stories on this website have been entered into many competitions before winning anything. If you gain any feedback from competition judges or editors, take it on board and see if you can improve your story before entering it in the next competition.

43 Writers' 'Rules for Writing'

Here is some additional reading for you. A US based writer friend of mine, Geoffrey Graves, recently sent me a useful resource written by Emily Harstone. It lists links to famous authors talking about the rules they apply to their writing.

It's a fascinating read, so I thought I'd share it here: click the link to read 43 Writers' 'Rules for Writing'.

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Short Story Advice Videos

Here are a few useful videos on the subject matter, by some experts and masters of the short story writing craft.

Video 1 - Stephen King on Short Stories

Stephen King started out writing short stories prior to becoming a famous novelist. Here, he talks about his experiences.

Video 2 - InkTears Editor, Anthony Howcroft, on Common Short Story Mistakes

InkTears run an anual short story competition with £1,000 top prize. Anthony, the head judge, talks about the common mistakes he sees in this video.

Video 3 - Manchester Prize judge, Nicholas Royle, on Common Mistakes

The Manchester Prize offers one of the largest cash prizes for short stories - a whopping £10,000. Nicholas is one of the judges. In this video, he talks about common mistakes and best short story writing best practice.

Video 4 - Roald Dahl, on Writing for Children

Roald Dahl, one of the most successful short story writers in history, talking about how difficult it is to write for children and other aspects of his life with Terry Wogan.

Video 5 - Ray Bradbury on Writing Short Stories and Dealing with Rejection

In this video, Ray Bradbury talks about his journey as a writer, from writing short stories, facing rejection, to writing novels like Fahrenheit 451.

Video 6 - Elmore Leonard on Writing

Elmore Leonard talks about how he developed a disciplined writing routine and the importance of strong characters.

Videos 7 & 8 - Christopher Fielden on Short Story Writing

I was interviewed by the Professional Writing Academy in Ireland about writing short fiction. They run a lot of courses for fiction writers.

In the first video I talk about common mistakes short story writers make when submitting their work to the competitions I run.

In the second video I talk about key tips and advice that short story writers need to be aware of.

Video 9 - Becky M Recommends 5 Short Story Collections

If you're interested in reading some very successful short story collections, to gain some inspiration or research the format, this video recommends some good places to start.

Author Interview Videos

In 2020, I started to conduct interviews with a variety of legends within the writing world, including successful authors, publishers, competition judges, editors, creative writing tutors and more.

You can listen to the interviews, which are all crammed with advice based on real-life experience, by looking at my new Author Interviews resource. Over time, more interviews will appear on that page.

Here is a sample of what to expect - an interview with Allen Ashley, President of the British Fantasy Society.

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Maintain a Healthy Imagination

I promise you, I’m not suddenly turning into a tree hugging, druidic eccentric. I still love my motorbike and utilising my drumming to make ears bleed. This really is practical advice which does help creativity and productivity. Honest.

Exercise Regularly

In my experience, keeping fit really helps my writing. A few years back, I went into an unhealthy spiral of doom. On New Year’s Day, I woke up feeling like a big fat forty year old bag of shite. While stuffing down my first full English of the year, I encountered some horrific indigestion which failed to be quelled by a vat of Gaviscon. I decided it was time to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

I find that taking regular exercise, be it walking, running, cycling, swimming - whatever suits you - helps to keep creativity and the imagination alive. It also aids concentration and focus.

healthy body = healthy mind = better writing and story telling

Don't believe me? Try it. Take daily exercise for a month. I'd be amazed if it doesn't help your writing.

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

It’s helped me lose weight. It’s made me feel healthier. I feel more alert, more creative, more inspired. My imagination is prolific and I’m writing a lot more. Combined with exercise, it really helps.

Don’t Drink too much Alcohol

There are tears running down my cheeks as I write this, but even I, a man who literally delights in supping beer, wine and other alcoholic wonderment, has to admit that overindulgence seriously knackers one’s ability to write.

I’m not saying don’t drink, I’m simply saying don’t drink excessively. Yawn. Snore. How dull. But it works.

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In the left menu at the top of the page, there are links to pages listing short story competitions, short story magazines and book competitions, all offering chances for you to become a published writer.

I wish you the best of luck.

If you have had any success and would like to write about it and have your comments considered for publication on my website, please get in touch.

Got any tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment.

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Your comments:

Thank-you, this is very helpful information!

Greg W
I have started approximately 40 short stories, and two children's books. I have finished exactly ZERO! I hear the little voice in the head that you mentioned, the one that tells you "it's no good" (or, more accurately, not good ENOUGH).  I am a good musician...get it?  Just not...

My mantra ought to be:  JUST FINISH IT!  (Dammit!!) Right?

Another difficulty that I have is:  Should I first outline the entire damned thing before I write it, or be "creative" and just let it flow (this seems not to work well)? Or is it a case of:  "depends on the writer."

I don't dig Lynch either. I HATE unresolved questions.  I hated "Mulholland Drive." I mean the movie, not the road.  Actually, I FEAR the actual road, but that's another st... well, you know!

I suppose knowing the ending is the baseline least to have in mind before starting .

Anyway, thanks for having put this group of suggestions and competitions together.  Hopefully, I'll need them in the NEAR future! I KNOW I HAVE IT IN ME TO BE A WRITER, G----AMN IT! I AM GREAT W/ WORDS, NOT SO GREAT WITH PLOT!!!!!

How does one increase the size of their "plot muscle?"  Let me guess: "Practice"... maybe y'all will find me at Carnegie Hall.

So I have this idea for a S.S:  "9.8 m/s 2" (squared; the little 2 should be half a line higher-see?)  ....it is about a guy who has decided it ain't worth it anymore, and he wants to do himself in, see?  But he wants to make it look like an accident-doesn't want his family (wife / 2 kids) to feel too horrible .  So he sets up a railing in an hotel, to look like it was weak, and the fall would be considered an accident.

But I am not having a lot of luck moving forward w/ this one.  I keep CHANGING MY MIND about everything in the #$%^cking story.  How  do I decide ????

p.s. I am not crazy.

Greg  Los Angeles CA

Chris Fielden
Hi Greg.

40 - wow. At least you're not short on ideas! First things first - don't listen to the Demon of Doubt. ANYONE can finish a story. You just have to discipline yourself to see it through. So yes, embrace that mantra - FINISH IT! Tell you what... pick one of those 40 stories - the one you are most fond of / most excited about. Aim at 3,000 to 5,000 words. Finish it. Send it to me and I'll proofread it for you. Carrot dangled. I hope it helps motivate you and means you can finish a story!

Re plotting and planning - yep, you guessed it, it depends on you. I tend not to plan too much for short stories, apart from having an end in mind because that works for me (most of the time). Judging by the amount of stories you've finished so far, I'd say that however you are approaching it at the moment isn't working for you. So try something different. Sometimes, having a full plan makes the writing easier - it stops you procrastinating and changing your mind a lot. I had a full story plan before I wrote The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle, which did make it easier / quicker to write. However, I find not having a plan can make a story more imaginative - if a plan is too strict / rigid it can hamper creativity. But that's just me. Novels are a different story (pardon the pun) - I had a plot outlined for my novel Wicked Game before I started it, as I can't see how you'd ever complete a 70,000+ word story if you didn't have a plan to keep it on track.

Re Mr Lynch - I felt like I'd been robbed of 2 hours of my life when I watched Mulholland Drive. I lived in LA for a couple of years (2000-2002) and used to like riding my bike along the actual road though, so I don't share your fear of the tarmac!

Re plot muscle - yes, practice, but also read a lot. By reading loads of short stories you expose yourself to gazillions of plots, characters and a myriad of inspiration. Yes it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun. I guess anyone who finds reading a writing a chore doesn't actually want to be a writer, right?

How to decide on the story? - PLAN IT. Try it. It sounds like it might work for you. If you write to a plan, you WILL finish a story. Then you'll have the luxury of being able to go back to edit and make changes, and that is way easier than crashing your writing spaceship into Planet Procrastination everytime a decision needs to be made. The story you've outlined sounds like a great idea, but I don't see an ending there. Does he succeed? Does he fail to kill himself and end up as a broken mess? Do aliens swoop down and give him divine inspiration to carry on with life rather than abandoning his family (I hope not, BTW, that would be crap...)? Do you tell the story from the wife's viewpoint? That could make it interesting, as she tries to work out what he's up to... Endless stuff you could do, but decide on something and FINISH IT!!!

I hope that's helpful Greg.

And thanks for taking the time to write such a good comment - it's a pleasant change from the 1,000 word epic spam nonsense I usually receive about designer clothes and supplements that'll enable me to turn certain parts of my anatomy into a third leg. Why do they bother? ...


P.S. I am crazy, and I think it helps :-)

Shirley M
After a family tragedy, I was asked by my counselor to consider helping others to write their own stories.  I don't profess to be any kind of expert, but feel that I can put words together reasonably well.  Anyway, as part of this exercise, I came across your website and found it really helpful.  Just wanted to say thanks. Shirley

Greg W
Chris: THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR  your considerate, thoughtful reply, and especially for taking the TIME out of your day / life to effect such a reply!

I cannot successfully put across how strongly your reply has affected me....Now I have a goal, and a commitment...something concrete to shoot for:
Finish the damned story and submit it to someone who is willing to read it, and provide a little MUCH needed feedback.  Also, "Aim for 3000 - 5000 words"is super-useful.  My (ONE of 'em, anyway) problem is "Option Anxiety."  I can't decide stuff like: How long / first person or... / etc., etc.

I KNOW that I can write, and I know I can do it well enough to make a living at it.

Honestly, I need cheerleader, or a mentor, or a sensei, or...well, you get it, I'm sure.  But receiving just a little advice, or hearing someone say (o.k., write!) something nice / positive / ENCOURAGING, especially from someone else who has "been there."  

...and I am not sure if I explained my "main problem" cogently, but what I mea to say was:  I have STARTED about 40 short stories, but only finished approximately, I think,zero... I have NEVER finished even one!

Should I just write something super - simple and stupid just to have a 'finish' on my record ?
...Something like:
"John couldn't decide whether he should go to the bathroom now, or wait until a little later...since his favorite show was going to end in only ten minutes, John decided to wait until his television show ended.The waiting caused John to expel gas, and his sister complained to their Mother, who asked John to go outside to expel gas next time.
John agreed, his TV show ended, John visited the bathroom, and he and his family lived happily ever after!

(see, now I have finished my first Short Story - "Expulsion"). Hey it's a START!

Seriously, though, I SO appreciate!  ...and I will finish it.  Soon!

p.s. how about giving me a deadline? - could you give me a deadline that, if I don't finish it by that date, you won't read it!?!? Again, thanks for your time!

Chris Fielden
Greg, no problem, I'm always happy to encourage - I'm just pleased it's helped you :-)

Rather than picking something uber-simple (congrats on finishing your first story BTW, although it's a few words short of our agreed 3,000 minimum ;-) !!!), I'd just concentrate on a story you feel passionate about. If you do that you have a much better chance of finishing it and having something you'll be proud of.

OK, a deadline - Monday March 18th, or the proof reading offer is off the table! That should give you enough time to plan, write, FINISH and maybe even edit. Max word count: 5,000.

That's it my man. Now DO IT!

Seriously though, I'm looking forward to reading your first short story. Good luck mighty Writing Crusader! Chris

Eleazar Z Jr
How do you know if your story is not stupid, for lack of a better word? I recently finished my first short story. Many have been started but none finished. My wife likes it, but I hate to say, maybe she's being nice. How do you know? It felt so right when I finished it, but the more I read it to revise it, the less I like it. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated

Chris Fielden

Hi Eleazar,

That's a common problem. If you read your own work too many times you can become over familiar with it and see nothing but faults. I would advise you to get a variety of friends and family to read it, mainly to pick up typos and mistakes, and then ask a professional to give you some constructive criticism on structure, characters, plot etc. You can do that by entering a competition, like Writers' Forum for example, and requesting a critique. This particular competition offers a simple critique for a reasonable price, and I've found the feedback they give is very helpful.

Alternatively, you can pay a professional editor. I've used JBWB in the past and found that they give good advice and valuable feedback at a reasonable price.

Whatever the outcome, don't give up after your first story. It's like anything, the more you do it, the better you get!

I hope that's useful. Best of luck with your writing. Chris

Cosima A
First of all,  I thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge with would be writers like me and for sharing your 'crazy horse'  imagination with everyone in your stories.

Your explanation about how important dialogue and speech is,  both to describe a character and to drive forward a story,  have been particulary helpful to me as I know my stories are too descriptive.

Avec tous mes remerciements 

Chris Fielden
Thanks Cosima. That's the first time I've been called 'crazy horse'! I kind of like it - sums up my writing style quite nicely. I might start calling myself Chris 'Crazy Horse' Fielden from now on.

I'm glad you found the advice useful. I think the use of dialogue is really important, especially in a short story. Let me know if it helps you improve your stories and get them published - I'd be really interested to see if it makes a difference. Merci, Chris

Diana G
I found your site very helpful.  I am just beginning to write short stories.  I enjoy it , it's fun and maybe some day I will have one published. Thanks, Diana

Trasey P
Dear Christopher, I had great pleasure in reading your very informative advice. I am a mother of three, all under five, and have started writing short stories and several unfinished children's books in the last two years.

The last competition I entered, I was unsuccessful in being shortlisted,  though this hasn't waivered my confidence and  I am determined to continue to find the time to learn how to write well and feed the world with my imagination.  Many thanks. I enjoyed reading all your ideas. Kind regards Trasey

Chris Fielden
Thanks Diana. And good luck Trasey - you're absolutely right, never give up!

Greg - haven't heard from you. Did you get the story done? I will give you  an extension if you like ;-)

Greg W
Topher, thank you SOOOO much for getting on my case about the story!  You rule!!! I am @ 60 % done. Greg

Chris Fielden
Excellent! Let me know when good old 100% comes a knockin' :-)

Looking forward to reading it.

Hello Christopher

Many thanks for the advice, it's been really helpful. I'm halfway through my first novella, with my daughter in law snapping at my heels every time I complete a new installment as she's enjoying it so much. It's my first effort so I'm not expecting Big Things, but am absolutely loving the experience. I would love to approach someone (anyone) to try and get it published,  but am a bit scared to do so! My main worry is that I've combined chick lit with horror - yes, I know, an odd combination, so I'm kinda thinking it doesn't really know what it is at the moment and may be rejected on those grounds.

Dilemma! Angel xx

Chris Fielden
Hi Angel

It does sound like an odd combination, but it also sounds like an interesting one. I can see it working. The best bet is to finish it and pay a professional to edit / critique it for you. This can cost a bit, but it's definitely worth investing the money. I've used JBWB in the past and found their services to be reasonably priced and very good. And there are plenty of other people out there offering similar services.

Depending on how long your story ends up being, you could consider submitting it to appropriate magazines / short story competitions that accept higher word counts.

You could also approach Choc Lit or Chick Lit Books. I'm not sure if either of them offer editing and proof reading services, but they might know who is most appropriate to approach with your novella and be able to give you more advice as they are far more familiar with the genre than me!

Hope that's useful. And best of luck with the novella. Cheers, Chris

Hello Chris, many thanks for the speedy (and personal) reply, I really appreciate your advice and suggestions. Angel x

Chris Fielden
Welcome Angel :-)

Reynold M R
Hi, Chris,

I'm from Goa, India and I'm going to launch my very first novel in United states via amazon and Kindle. I hired Create Space to help me out as they're still working on it. The genre of my book is horror fiction and it's 25,000+ words.

I worked very hard on this project, i'm just looking for a right platform to get my story recognized. The book already registered as i got the ISBN nos and LCCN nos but since this is my first time i have absolutely no idea how to go ahead and share my work.

If there are any appropriate competitions you know of, I'd be really grateful for your guidance.

Chris Fielden
Hi Reynold, congratulations on finishing your book. The best bet is to look through the novel competitions page and see which ones are suitable for your work.

One thing I would say is that 25,000 words is quite short, and not really classed as a novel - sounds more like novella length to me. Most publishers expect a novel to 60,000+ words, and some more than that.

I hope that's useful. And best of luck with your book. Chris

Reynold M R
Hi, Chris, thank you so much for your advise. I appreciate it and thanks for your time. Reynold

Warren T
Dear Chris, your website on story writing is excellent so keep up the great work!

I'm not sure if this is the done thing to do but I am writing to you to ask for a bit of advice regarding flash fiction / short story writing.

Since August 2011, Ihaveundertaken the path of being a flash fiction writer and Iam lucky enough to have had 11 stories published online via writing competitions, winning twice. No where near your level of writing though! I've read a few of your stories and I am full of the highest praise for your work, as sycophantic and cliche as that sounds, but a la George Washington, I cannot tell a lie! I really like 'Devil's Crush' and that is the kind of level I aspire to achieve in my writing or somewhere vaguely near it. Got to aim very high!

I find the whole story writing process all very self fulfilling. Crafting together a story and seeing the end product is a great thing to do. But what I do find frustrating is the lack of feedback I have received for my stories, especially for the stories where I have asked and paid for feedback / critiques. For the 11 stories I got published, I was simply sent an email saying that I had placed in the respective writing competitions and that the stories were live online. For the ones where I have asked and paid for critiques I am still yet to hear from them, despite having sent them stories back in October 2011. Its making me think that these latter sites were perhaps simply scams to cheat monies out of the likes of me.

I feelI have pushed my ability as far as it can go and I'm at a bit of a loss as to how I can progress further. Without proper feedback I am unlikely to progress to where I want to get to. Although it is great that I have had my stories published, I don't know at what stage of my development I am actually at. I need to know this if I am ever going to improve.

I don't expect you to critique my stories, I appreciate that you would probably too busy a man for that, but I was wondering if you had any hints and tips as to where I should look, or where I can get quality critiques for my stories and how to generally move forward.

Chris Fielden
Hi Warren

Congratulations on your flash fiction successes – having 11 stories published is pretty good going! Flash Fiction is a medium I’ve never been able to master. Every time I try to write a 500 word story I end up writing 3,000 words, so I decided to stick with short stories as it obviously suits me better :-)

I know what you mean about feedback – it can be frustrating when you receive no help or advice. So, here are the competitions and services I’ve used in the past that I’ve found to be useful.

JBWB - the rates are reasonable and the feedback they give is very useful. I used them to critique my first novel prior to publishing it and their feedback was excellent, allowing me to vastly improve the book.

Little House Creative Workshops - this is another critique service that is reasonably priced. I won their comp in 2011 and received a full critique of my short story as part of the prize. You can see the format on The Cat, the Bull and the Madman story page.

Writers’ Forum - if you enter their short story competition, you can get a short critique for £5. I’ve found the critiques helpful in the past. If you look on the Devil’s Crush and Smoo Choo The Magic Moo story pages you can see examples of the format.

Writers' Village - if you enter their competition, you receive some concise feedback from the judge. If you look at The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle story page you will see an example of the format.

The other thing you could consider is joining a writing group. I’ve done that recently and found it to be excellent fun. We all read each other’s stories and give our opinions. It’s really interesting and helps you develop your writing alongside likeminded people.

I hope that’s useful to you. And best of luck with your writing.

Poonam V
Thank you so much for providing such a valuable source of information and advice!  For 3 or 4 years now, I've been wanting to write. I'm not sure what, but I have had this increasingly strong desire to get words on paper, play with their formation - whether that is poetry, flash fiction, short story or novel. I really don't know what my capabilities are at present. I did attempt writing a novel, during NaNoWriMo and achieved a word count of 20,000. But I became tired with the story. Maybe I will revisit it some day. Or maybe it was too much to begin with.

When I was 8 years old, I used to write short stories regularly for my school paper. I loved it. But surprisingly, I entered the commercial world of marketing, so never pursued a writing career. However, a couple of years ago, I attended a 10-week creative writing course, which was insightful. Then, I recently came across your invaluable website, and decided to submit a Flash Fiction entry for the 2013 Bridport Prize. A good learning experience in getting a very short story written - taking on board some of your comments on your website - and then getting it reviewed by friends and family, before finally submitting. I enjoyed the experience. My next goal is to begin writing a short story. Your website has been great to give me the boost that I needed. Many thanks!

Chris Fielden
That's great, Poonam :-) I'm glad you found the site so useful. It's really nice to hear. Best of luck with your entry in the Bridport Prize!

Poonam V
Thanks! :)

Romeo E
This was really helpfull and i think i now know what i have to change to make my stories interesting... thanks

Sir, this article made my life! I wasn't sure before whether I could ever get proper instructions and guidelines about writing or anything , but this helped me loads. I always wanted to write in English and it's my second language so I need to enrich my vocabulary and my grammar too. So can you help me by suggesting me few great novels and short stories which are 'must reads', especially for beginners  please. Every time I pick a book I am not sure if it would help me or not. I am from India and it's hardly possible to get books here so I read from mobile apps.

Chris Fielden

Hi Koeyl

Well, it depends which genres you like, but you could try starting with the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling - they are very well written, despite what some critics might say. I read quite a bit of fantasy. Some good writers in this genre are David Gemmell (try starting with Sword in the Storm), Ursula Le Guin (The Earthsea Quartet), Stephen King (the Dark Tower series, so start with the Gunslinger) and any of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. I also rate Andy McNab, so try his books if you want gritty, fast paced realism - they're very entertaining.

As for short stories, you can try some classics, like Roald Dahl, Philip K Dick or Ray Bradbury. If you want to read short works by aspiring new writers, try Scribble, Writers' Forum or other magazines that regularly publish short stories. There are also lots of websites out there where you can read for free, like Writers' Village and Word Hut.

Hope that's useful, and best of luck with your writing.

Hey Chris, thanks so much for your help! It will surely be helpful for my writing! Thanks soo soooo much!

Thank you Christopher, this is very helpful to me. Ok!

Lizbella D
The list of competitions is very useful and you seem to have a great sense of fun in your approach ha ha!

I also agree that the more you write the more you seem to want to write, the more you want somebody to read it also!

Chris Fielden
Rivardo & Lizbella - thank you :-)

Ethel T
Thank you, Christopher, for these valuable writing tips - they will definitely increase my knowledge in short story writing.  Some years ago I took a writing course with Writers Digest.  I have since written several short stories, but, unfortunately, shelved them due to personal setbacks.  Now I have taken them off the shelf, dusted them off, editing them and will forward them to friends for constructive comments.  And thanks for keeping all personal information confidential. Sincerely, Ethel

Chris Fielden
You're welcome, Ethel. I'm glad you found the tips useful. Best of luck with editing your stories :-)

Jacqui C
Morning Christopher, I am trying to incoroporate your wonderful advice into this message. I have been writing since I could write (lot of years believe me) and now they all sit on my computer. I have entered a couple of competitions and put a book on Kindle. I have now bookmarked your page and will go through it again and again as the 'Demon of Doubt' crawls over me.

Take your point about the alcohol - my excuse I am a child of the sixities!

Thank you for your very interesting helpful advice.

Have a good day, Jacqui

Chris Fielden
Thanks Jacqui, glad you found the advice helpful. If it helps you keep the Demon of Doubt at bay, I'm happy.

Ah, alcohol... no excuse needed!

Best of luck with your writing :-)

Brian F
I'm still on my (formal submission) learning curve, but with your above advice you've helped straighten it out. Thanks for the sensible advice. I have a 7.7K word story that moves from past tense, to present tense, to future, and it involves a successful albeit unhappy person transitioning into contentment because of... well, that would ruin the story as they say. My trouble is I find editing my own work is extremely difficult, and then there's that Demon of Doubt that sometimes whispers, "Just because you like it, will others?"  Anyway - thank you for getting me to consider submitting my story.

Chris Fielden
Glad you found the advice useful, Brian.

You should never listen to the Demon of Doubt. The best way to shut him up is ask other people to read your work - that way you'll gain some feedback and, even if you receive criticisms, there are bound to be some positives in there and you can then go on to improve your writing. I've always found that has worked for me in the past.

Best of luck with your writing.

Olanike A
Thank you for this vital and important information. I've been using some of these tips in my short stories. It will go a long way to help me do a lot more great work. Thanks and God bless your intellect.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Olanike, I'm glad you found the tips useful :-)

Lexie O
Hi, I just wanted to say I happened across your website while looking for short story competitions. I am fairly new to writing; I've only been writing for just over 2 years. I often find it difficult to keep writing. I get to about 200 or 300 words and seem to hit a brick wall. I have started several stories with ideas for where I want the story to go and end but I always get stuck around 200 words and can't seem to get past it, so I end up not finishing the story.

 Any suggestions on why this happens and how I can get around it?

Chris Fielden
How much do you plan your stories? If you plan the story in depth, so you know exactly what is going to happen, you will find it much easier to finish. Even if you're not a fan of this working practice, I'd try it. I prefer not to plan too much when writing (although I always try and write with an end in mind), but I've found that if you do fully plot every detail of a story, it's much easier and quicker to complete. Not plotting fully can make you crash into brick walls as you don't know where the story is going and have little direction.

Also, think the characters through, so you understand them. If it's easier, base them on people you know. If you have a clear picture of each character, they are a lot easier to write :-)

The other thing to do is to remove distractions. Turn off your phone, music, the TV, anything that will have a negative impact on your concentration. That can also help.

And this may sound silly, but do some exercise beforehand. That gets your body going and can help your brain function. I'm not saying that will work for everyone, but it does work for me if I'm flagging. Worth a try.

Anyway, I hope that's useful. Best of luck with your writing.

Susheela M
Thank you for the tips and all the information.

Chris Fielden
You're welcome Susheela - I'm glad you found the tips useful :-)

I found your article to be inspiring. It has inspired me to finish a few short stories I've been stuck on. I'd like to one day get published, or even enter a few competitions, but I never feel like my stories are good enough. You said that you're not a professional editor, but it seems like you have such a keen grasp at this, it would mean a lot to me if you looked over just one of mine. If not, that's understandable, too. Thank you for your time! You're very helpful!

Chris Fielden
Gerald, I'm glad you found the information on my site useful!

Wow, that info was in an OLD comment that I have now updated. Due to the amount of requests I started to receive to do proofreading, I have started to offer it as a paid service. You can see all the details in the Writing Services section of my website. I'm afraid I can no longer offer to do this kind of thing for free as I get far too many requests to deal with.

Let me know if you're interested in the service. And if not no worries - I wish you the very best of luck with getting your stories published.

If I were you, I'd submit them to competitions anyway. Writers often doubt their own skill, but you should get the stories out there and learn from any feedback you receive. Writers' Forum is a good starting place as they offer brief critiques at a very reasonable price when you submit.

Chris T
Great writing tips. Also, when you are writing a scene always strike out anything not of interest to the point of view of the character you are writing about in that scene. The writer using this technique avoids authorial bleed and tightens the focus of the piece on the matter in hand, making the scene really count.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Chris, good advice :-)

James W
Chris, your website is hugely informative and helpful -  keep up the excellent work (and writing)!

I just have a couple of questions if I may. What would you say were your top five writing comps/sites for new writers to submit their short stories? And which of these would you say give the best feedback?

Something that's hugely challenging, I find, is acquiring good (or indeed any) constructive feedback - for a beginner it often feels like flailing around in the dark with only the faintly blinking cursor to guide you... Can you recommend any feedback services? Do you give feedback on stories yourself?

Once again, huge fan of the website. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
James, I'm glad you like the site - always nice to hear :-)

Hmm. Not sure I have a top five as so much is dependent on the style and genre you write in, and what competitions or publications are best suited to your work. That said, I often recommend Writers' Forum as a good starting point. They offer useful feedback at very reasonable rates and consider many styles and genres of writing. The other one I'd recommend for feedback is Writers' Village - John (who runs the site) offers very insightful feedback. He also runs an academy with a free trial, so that's worth a look.

I don't give feedback through the competition I run as, to be completely honest, it's too much work for one person! However, I do offer a proofreading service which you can learn about here.

I hope that's useful. I'm afraid the rest is down to market research and deciding on which competitions and magazines make the most sense for you!

James W
Chris, thanks so much for getting back to me, really helpful. I will look into both competitions mentioned.

I didn't realise you offered the critique service too, very useful. Maybe in touch about this, as I could really use some objective feedback - I'm often blind to my own work and don't really have anyone to seek guidance from. It can be challenging when you don't know where you are going wrong (or right)...

Thanks again.

Chris Fielden
James, no probs – you’re welcome. Glad the info was useful :-)

I know what you mean about becoming blind to your own work. That’s one of the benefits of joining a writing group – lots of regular feedback. That’s worth looking into too!

David M
Dear Christopher, I have just logged in to your web site and my god I am so pleased that I found it. I am a retired ad man (aged over 60) and I have always had the ambition to write, and now I have the time.

I have written two short stories and I am waiting for decisions from the editors of two magazines.

I have read several books on "writing" but your site tells me more useful information than the three books put together, and they were not cheap to buy either.

Thank you so much.

Chris Fielden
Hi David, it's really good to hear you find the site so useful - feedback like that makes it all worthwhile. Best of luck with those magazine submissions, I hope you see your stories in print soon. Cheers, Chris

Arya D
It was very usefull. Thank you so much for your opinions.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Arya, I hope you find the tips and advice useful.

Richard M
Don't take this the wrong way but I arrived at your website after buying your book and I'm currently about halfway through (I think). I'd just promised myself never to buy another book on writing and getting published after buying something really awful that was more about the author's drug addiction than writing when I had something about your book pop up on Facebook. Since I'd just decided that the best way to get myself actually writing was to write short stories I thought I would suspend my rejection of all books about writing one last time.

 I'm glad I did - or at least I think I am. So far I'm halfway between thinking you are a literary genius who is very generous and a completely insane madman with a shmoo moo fixation, who is on something that I should be trying.

I'm a bit worried that I might be in that category myself as I seem to be able to churn out a 3,000-word story in an evening. I'm not saying they are any good - they may be completely awful, I'm not really sure, but I'm going to keep on writing them anyway and perhaps sending them off somewhere to find out (though at the rate I write at, this could be an expensive project).

I just wanted to say that so far I have really enjoyed the book and the stories it contains and also your very helpful website. I'm only really writing for fun and stress relief and I'm thinking of putting all of the stories onto a blog site. Do you think that might be a good idea, or is it likely to cause problems should I wish to publish them or send them into competitions?

Chris Fielden
Hi Richard. Thanks - it’s always good to hear that people are enjoying the book. I'm glad you're finding it helpful. I'm on beer, so you could try that if you like? I find it helpful, in short controlled bursts. It doesn't help my writing, but it certainly helps my soul... :-)

Putting your stories on a blog can cause problems if you intend to submit to competitions. Most ask for first publication rights and if you publish them on your blog that means the stories would not be eligible for around 80 to 90% of competitions and magazines.

What I tend to do is publish my previously published short stories on my website. That way it doesn't matter. You're also likely to get far more people reading them if they are published in magazines and anthologies than if you start a blog. That's why I've developed mine in the way I have. When it just contained my short stories, I hardly received any traffic through the site. Once I started putting useful resources on it, I got a lot more interest - it gives people a reason to visit the site. They then discover the stories, so I gain more readers that way.

So, I'm not saying don't make a blog. I'm just saying, consider leaving any stories you want to submit to contests unpublished on your site.

If you want feedback, you could join a writing group. I've done that and found it incredibly helpful. You could also use a proofreading service. I offer one on my site, but am so swamped with my To Hull & Back competition at the moment that my turnaround times are painfully slow. JBWB are very good, so you could try them. If your stories are 3,000 words or under, you could try submitting to Writers' Forum. They offer cheap, terse critiques - you will have seen them in the book. I've found them very useful in the past.

The other thing you could do is put a short story collection together and publish it on Amazon. I use CreateSpace (an Amazon owned company) to make my printed books and then it's very easy to make digital ones and sell them through Amazon. That's worth considering too.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the very best with your writing. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Stuart L
You may surmise, that by communicating thus, I write... I have written for over thirty years. I began as a biped and morphed into a balancing act with one leg... twice removed. It’s a short story, but, I'm still here, though i lost the chop and ruined my gear... I write because a blank page is my confessor, my therapy and my witness... Which makes it more than just quirky... Publishing on Facebook isn't working, it’s like having your nan say, "Oh, that's nice, dear."

You won’t know me, you will never meet me, never see the dark hooded eyes or the semi-permanent scowl nailed to my face. I am the conundrum and the enigma; I am good, bad and indifferent I am the centre of my own universe... praying it gets better and doesn’t get any worse...

What are words? They are expression they are observational, they are honest... until implied otherwise. People take the truth, and just turn it into lies.

I have lived in the real world, I have survived catastrophe and disaster, yet I bow to no man, and no man was ever called my master... I made my own bed, and now I must lie down in it, but no matter how you make it, it all comes down to this... are you comfortable, are you content? Have you enriched your life? Was that time well spent?

I have lived in the real world, as I think I just said, I mixed with bikers and druggies, sadly most of them now dead... and I have all their stories locked inside my head, I know the secrets, I know all the tales, I know the successes and the grand, but epic fails... all those daft ideas that put good men in jails...

I have lived in the real world... I’d like to welcome you to what’s inside my head... It will contain tales, you don’t want to read, while you’re all alone in bed... Stories of gore, stories of death, where the terror is tangible and you’ll hold your breath... Poems of pleasure, poems of hate, poems of love although they’re not always that great, they are at least entertaining... you’ll soon be popping buttons if that nightshirt is straining...

I will offend you, I will shock you as well, welcome to my head, welcome to my hell... Welcome to my world, draw the curtains, dim the lights, open up a page and let’s put the world to rights... Agree, or disagree, it’s provoking thoughts that matter to me... I need to say what I've seen, to separate the nightmares, to stop the blood soaked scenes, to silence the bodies, so I can no longer hear their screams. So I can sleep in peace, instead of being haunted by my dreams...

Chris Fielden
Hi Stuart. This is possibly the most poetic blog comment I've ever received. It seems a bit wasted as a comment, but it's published for others to enjoy :-)

Stuart L
Hi... I'm new to this online publishing malarkey, so, I apologise if I posted my missive in the wrong place... I never realised that there was a market for stoner poetry! I write them as lyrics as I play harmonica and sing (with more enthusiasm than expertise) in a rhythm and blues band called The Dodgy Jammers... and I did my first gig in a wheelchair...

I bought some weed, off a guy I just met,

He said, this here weed, is the best you can get,

So, I paid him to score, and do me an Oz,

He asked me why? and I said, because...

I staggered to a bar, 'bout a mile out of town,

with spit in the sawdust, laid out on the ground,

I ordered a beer, and a bottle of jack,

The Barman asked why?

and I said, coz she ain't coming back...

My 'songbook' has over 2,000 (thousand) pages...

Regards and thank you... Stuart

Chris Fielden
Hi Stuart. Well it’s great to hear you’re writing songs and playing music from your wheelchair!

Tuma AS
Hi Chris, good evening. I live in the UK and my daughter, Rashaa, lives in Melbourne/Victoria.

I highly appreciate your information. I have a book nearly ready for publication and I want to publish it on Amazon.

What is your advice, please?

Chris Fielden
Hi Tuma. If you want to publish on Amazon, please check out this page.

I wrote a post all about how to publish on Amazon, using CreateSpace, for Matthew Woodward's blog. You don't have to buy the book, you can read most of it on Matthew's site. There is a link on the page about the book that takes you to the post.

I hope you find the information useful and I wish you the best of luck with publishing the book.

Viv W
This is fabulous website with so much useful information. I particularly like the 'advice on writing' videos. And there are so many competitions listed here.

I bought the 2016 'To Hull and Back' anthology, which was a great read, though I wish now I'd bought a hard copy rather than for my kindle as there are so many great stories and I think 'hard' copy is always easier to handle with longer works. Keep up the good work and thank you for a great resource.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Viv. Really glad to hear you're finding the site so useful - makes it all worthwhile :-)

Louise B
I actually did it!

My aim for this year (2018) was to actually enter my short stories into competitions and share my work. Originally it was to finish and share/enter one story a month. It is now only the 20th January and I have written 24 short stories ranging from 50 words to 2,000. With my husband's help with proofreading (I am so bad at spelling and grammar its unbelievable) I have entered 12 different competitions.

The best part is... I have actually won a competition. I used your tips of reading the rules before submitting and didn't rely on my laptops word count. It may have only been 80 words long, but it has given me the boost I needed to prove I can write and someone, somewhere likes it. So thank you so much for taking the time to write this website and share your skills.

I am currently reading the past winners of To Hull And Back, making it my next writing challenge to enter.

Chris Fielden
That's great news, Louise - congratulations on your win!

I'm really glad to hear the website helped you - messages like this make it all worthwhile :-)

Best of luck with your other stories, and I'll look forward to receiving your To Hull And Back entry.

Debbie R
There's lots of writing advice out there but yours is amongst the best. This website is easy to read (an example of essential 'stating the obvious', which I can see you're a fan of when advising about competition entries!) with lots of tips. I particularly look forward to including the video clips in my personal development plans. The only danger is that it becomes a brilliant excuse for not actually writing anything ...

Chris Fielden
Thanks for your kind words, Debbie. Great to hear you are finding the website helpful.

Ah yes... plans and videos can be a distraction. This is why I tend to go off in my camper van to write. When there is no phone signal or internet, there is nothing left to do but create some stories. Works for me, you just have to find what works for you :-)

I wish you all the best with your writing.

Sebastian KB
Thanks for your amazingly informative website. For a novice writer like myself, it's great to have so much invaluable content all in one place.

I and my fellow baby-writers have started recording our short stories as audio files that can be shared with friends and strangers via Spotify (and other services) but we wanted to know if this counts as being 'published', for competition purposes, mainly. Many thanks, Seb.

Chris Fielden
Hi Seb. Thank you for your message. It's great to hear you find my website's content valuable.

I think the majority of competitions would consider a story published if it is available on Spotify, or other global platforms like SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes etc. However, the definition of 'published' does vary from competition to competition, so you would have to check the terms and conditions of each comp before submitting.

Sorry that's not a definitive answer, but I hope it helps :-)

Nigel J
I use your website a lot and I wonderedif you might publish the following:

Writers who are published on websites should make sure that they have a visible record of their work. While print publication enables the writer to take and photocopy cuttings, the disappearance of a website for whatever reason means there's no record of their work at all. As I discovered, this can have repercussions when one is including work on one's CV and someone wants to check it out (or corroborate it, such as a book publisher you've contacted).

It might be useful to give some advice on how web pages can be archived so that they exist in perpetuity beyond the life of the website itself. If you had anything published in Ash Tales, for example, you'll find that it's no longer there: the website has converted to a podcast site. No explanation is forthcoming from the site editors.

Chris Fielden

Thanks Nigel. Wise advice :-)

You can use the ‘Print Screen’ button on your computer to copy a page and then paste it into a program, like Word for example, and then save it so you have a visual record. You can also use free software, like TechSmith’s Screen Capture. That allows you to grab sections of your computer screen and save an image.

If a website has disappeared, you can try using internet archive websites like the WayBack Machine. Sometimes, that will have a record of what you’re looking for. You just need the URL that your work appeared on.

But I agree with you – writers should keep a record of every aspect of their publication history, along with emails from editors and publishers as proof that they have been published. You never know when you might need it. Personally, I hoard everything :)

I hope that helps.

Peter B
I have 3 short story books about a world where dream children appear and use their skills and talents to help all living things. They can communicate with their minds, which is why there is no violence.

Trying to encourage readers to read or buy my ebooks and paperbacks is a challenge. I wrote two crime novellas hoping it would attract different readers. I've just written 26 new short stories. Plus a series of photo books of Dominican animals, where I live. They explain what they are doing in each picture.

I happened to listen to a video that suggested submitting short stories to magazines. I Googled "short story magazines" and found this site, which I so wish I had read before publishing my books with Draft2Digital. I will start watching your videos. But, I'm 73, British, unhealthy and stressed as I've given all my state pension to locals, and my ex-wife who was robbed and has 24 cats she cares for. I hope to find a magazine that I don't have to pay for.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for your message, Peter.

Competitions quite often have submissions fees, but many magazines don't. If you look through my magazine lists you'll find many that are free to submit to. You'll also find competitions without entry fees, so that is worth looking at too. There are many publishing opportunities out there.

I wish you the very best of luck with your submissions :)

Peter B
That's great, thank you very much. Thank you so much for responding. I will study your lists.

Chris Fielden
No problem at all, Peter. All the best :)

Richard F
Thanks, Chris, for the wealth of resources on short story writing and writing in general. I really enjoyed the videos and have gained some great insights which I hope to apply to my writing.
The writing challenges and exercises which you have are really good and I hope to submit an attempt. Still trying to figure out the difference between show and tell but getting there I think. Richard

Chris Fielden
Thank you, Richard, and thank you for the donation too - very much appreciated.

I'm glad to hear you're finding the website useful. I'll look forward to reading your writing challenge submission. All the best to you.