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How Short is a "Short" Story?

  1. profile image0
    TransScribblerposted 7 years ago

    How short is a short story?

    There seems to be some confusion in these parts as to what constitutes a "short" story. Personally, I have written stories as short as fifty words. Another I recently put forward for promotion is 134 words long. But, I was told, this piece is not a short story, as it is not 800 or so words in length.

    What would you call a short story? 80? 800? 8 000?

    1. MayG profile image89
      MayGposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Hi TransScribbler, I think those really short stories of yours are called 'Flash Fiction' these days, and and there are websites devoted to publishing only flash fiction. Perhaps you should try and publish them there?  I think you have a gift - no way I could tell a whole story in so few words.  I think in terms of publication or writing contests, as WryLilt says it depends on the editor's requirements, or the contest guidelines.  I think the minimum would usually be around 1500 words though.

    2. adrienne2 profile image63
      adrienne2posted 7 years agoin reply to this

      @TransScribbler that is incredible telling a story in 50 words. I think a short short is right at 800 words.

    3. Pearldiver profile image80
      Pearldiverposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I have always been very wary of Short Stories that start and finish with: 'This is The End!' hmm

      1. RConnolly09 profile image56
        RConnolly09posted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Here, check this out:


        This is a site for finding literary magazines which fit the piece you wish to publish. Notice the legend to the side in terms of length.

        Flash fiction is less than 1,000 words.
        A Short Story is between 1,000 and 7,500 words.
        A Novelette is between 7,500 and 15,000 words.
        A Novella is between 15,000 and 40,000 words.
        A Novel is over 40,000 words.

        This is (generally) the scale most literary magazine publishing groups will use. Hope this helps!


    4. Joy56 profile image77
      Joy56posted 7 years ago

      a short story can be any length.  The one we are being asked to submit needs to be 800 that is the requirement for her......

      1. camlo profile image90
        camloposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, 800+ for Shazwellyn's Hub.

    5. WryLilt profile image90
      WryLiltposted 7 years ago

      A short story can be any length - as long as it meets the editor's requirements.

      If you ever want to write for publication or an upfront payment, chances are you're going to have to meet whatever standards the payer sets, or else you won't get paid.

      So my answer is - any length if you're writing for yourself. The length your asked if you're writing for someone else.

      1. profile image0
        TransScribblerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Having written and been published and paid, I would agree if that was what this call for links was about.
        But it is not.
        According to the person requesting our stories, it is about promoting both the writer and HP.
        This is the style of the majority of my creative writing. If it is not good enough for promoting for free as far as HP and the editor are concerned, I will take my time and writing elsewhere.

        If you want to judge my work for yourselves, go to my profile page and have a look at my creative fiction.

        1. profile image0
          Website Examinerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          Shazwellyn doesn't represent HP, as far as I am aware. That she wants to "spread the hub love" does not make this an HP program, either. She does everything on her own initiative, and will use her hard work and SEO research to give exposure to some writers. If she feels that 800+ words is what it takes to make her concept successful, the writers here on HubPages shouldn't have a problem with respecting that. This project is an opportunity for anyone who qualifies and is willing to accept the conditions. That does not imply criticism or rejection of anybody else.

          1. profile image0
            TransScribblerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

            Unless 95% of that person's writing is in that style and format.

            I did offer to provide longer, exclusive pieces for the project, but was told that it would not be fair to Hubbers and HP to use "old material". What the...?!?!?!

            So, my creative fiction will be coming off my Hubs this weekend and moving to a new location, although my articles will remain here at HP.
            ticketyboo! TS

            1. profile image0
              Website Examinerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

              TransScribbler, I have no idea what you and Shazwellyn have been discussing in emails. No matter, she does not represent HP, so there is no point in taking your stories off HubPages because of this. I'm shaking my head vigorously, and find your decision disappointing. Please reconsider... W.E.

              1. WryLilt profile image90
                WryLiltposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                Have to agree with WE.

                It's like taking your 'car for sale' advertisement off the local notice board because someone rings up to find out about the car, then after being told the model and year, say it's not what they're looking for.

                1. shazwellyn profile image57
                  shazwellynposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                  NO!  Older written short stories are fine as far as Im concerned smile  No, Im no HP official!  This is just a wee little project to showcase good stories x

      2. profile image0
        Website Examinerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        I agree completely. Would like to add that in my understanding, a short story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some degree of wholesomeness sets a short story apart from more sporadic writings.

    6. kazemaru2 profile image56
      kazemaru2posted 7 years ago

      less than 500 words however if you want to post one on hubpages 700 words is ideal.

    7. Jaggedfrost profile image79
      Jaggedfrostposted 7 years ago

      long enough to get a beginning, middle and end in and tie them together so that you don't blush every time someone reads your work and asks you where the rest of it is.

    8. profile image0
      ralwusposted 7 years ago

      Here are the true guidelines for y'all:

      Flash Fiction

      100 - 1,000 words

      Short Story

      1,000 - 7,500 words


      7,500 - 20,000 words


      20,000 - 50,000 words


      50,000 -110,000

      Epics and Sequels

      Over 110,000 words

      1. Freya Cesare profile image73
        Freya Cesareposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Eh. 100 to 1000 words for flash fiction?  neutral What 40 words story called then, Charlie?  Super flash fiction?

        1. profile image0
          Website Examinerposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          Spark fiction?

          Some of Ralwus' numbers (novelette, novella) seem pretty high compared with the definitions I have found. I am also surprised that anyone would want to limit a novel to 110,000 words.

    9. profile image0
      ralwusposted 7 years ago
    10. thirdmillenium profile image60
      thirdmilleniumposted 7 years ago

      They say this is the shortest story:

      Two men were traveling by train. One asked the other "DO you believe in ghosts?"
      The other said "Yes" and disappeared

      1. Freya Cesare profile image73
        Freya Cesareposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        lol lol lol

    11. b. Malin profile image72
      b. Malinposted 7 years ago

      As LONG as it take to write it!

      1. profile image0
        AMBASSADOR BUTLERposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        I agree.

    12. kookoo88 profile image61
      kookoo88posted 7 years ago

      The nebula awards don't define flash fiction.  They also don't really accept ebooks or online works, but it fits with what ralwus and RConnolly09 said.


      "What’s the definition of a “novella,” “novelette,” etc.?
      For the purposes of the Nebula Awards:

      * Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
      * Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
      * Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
      * Novel: 40,000 words or more.
      * At the author’s request, a novella-length work published individually, rather than as a part of a collection, anthology, or other collective work, shall appear in the novel category."