Lunchtime Reads

For the longest time I strongly believed that I had to write an entire novel because that is what I thought readers and the market wanted. Now my thinking has changed a great deal. This past year I had written four short stories that were a part of four anthologies.

It was an eye opening experience crafting short stories when previously my other writing experience had only been magazine and newspaper articles, posts here at WG2E and two full manuscripts (including my debut novel LIQUID LIES).

One of my friends in the industry, a very successful and multi published author, had preached that writers need to only work on full length novels. She went onto to say that authors should not waste their precious writing time creating short stories. Just in the past few months this very same friend is now shouting from the rooftop a whole different tune.

What is it? The buzz for 2013- short stories are hot hot hot. It seems that people love a story. They want to read short stories while their get their oil changed, wait for an appointment, stuck in carpool, during their lunch break and so on. Short stories are: instant gratification, quick, easy and satisfying.

As Talli said in her post on January 8, 2013 short stories can drive readers to author’s other books as well.

Short stories can also give readers a little more to read of their favorite character(s). For example I wrote “CHRISTMAS CORPSE CAPER” as a prequel to LIQUID LIES. I took one of the main characters in the novel, Mark Stevens, and featured him in his own story. Some readers may start with the short story then want to read more and get the novel. Or some may have already read the novel and want to read the short story prequel.

Because short stories are becoming so popular, a group of writers have created a website called Lunchtime Reads. A great place for readers to find short stories, and if you are an author and would like to feature your short story on the website please contact

Have I given up writing full length novels? No.

But I am now making sure I also write a few short stories as well to tie into my existing novels, or to lead into new ones.

How about you- what are your thoughts on short stores? Have you written any?

The Best of Short Story Wishes — Lois Lavrisa

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  1. Julie Day says:

    I’m so pleased that short stories are making a come back, esp on line. I have just started a new series of stories about a magical village and plan to publish them throughout the year in between my short ebooks. Can’t wait to see what reaction I get for them.

  2. Tamara Ward says:

    I know I sometimes crave a short story, especially when my life is super busy! Thanks for the post.

  3. Monica Davis says:

    Thanks for this, Lois! I’ll check out the Lunchtime Reads site. Short stories are nice to have while I’m searching for the next “great read” and don’t want to get tied up in a lengthy saga. They’re like between meal snacks ;-)

  4. Jill Hughey says:

    Thanks for this post. What is the word-count range for a short story?

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Jill- Hmm, word count I would say that anything goes under 50K words (which some consider the minimum length to be called a “novel”)

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Wavin’ atchya, Jill and Lois!

        I’m luuuvvving the concept of Lunchtime Reads! Brilliant!!! And thanks for sharing the scoop, Lois!

        I’ve read fantastic short stories that are literally one page long and fit beautifully in anthologies, and I’ve read what I call short-shorts which amount to anywhere from 1000 to 3000 words. A regular length short story range for me is between 3000 and 10,000 words, and from there on up to novel length (whatever that magic number really is…LOL!…maybe around 50,000 give or take several thousand…LOL!) is what I call a novella.

        But really…readers totally don’t care what we call it or how long it is as long as they’re luvin’ what we’ve written. :-)

  5. Laina Turner says:

    I agree that I used to think short stories were not the best use of my time. However, last year I thought it would be fun to write a holiday short that goes along with my full length series and it was a great compliment. I have since started to put a few on my schedule to give readers a tie over as they are waiting for my next book. It definitely has challenged me as a writer though. I am still learning how to best write the short without rushing the plot. I’m always a work in progress.

  6. I have a couple of short stories. They’re fun to write. Yes, they’re work getting in what you need, but they’re also freeing in that you don’t have to come up with this convoluted plot to last an entire book. Thanks for the Lunchtime Reads tip.

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Laina- I am right with you- I had the hardest time writing short stories. The craft takes getting use to. But I still think the best short stories (just like novels) have a great plot, a beginning middle and end, tight dialogue, characters that pop…. And like you I am always learning :)

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Stacey- I am so glad you like Lunchtime reads- and I do hope you all consider getting your stories on the website too:)

  7. JamieSalisbury (@JamieRSalisbury) says: article! My one goal for this year beyond novellas is a full length novel. I also have considered short stories and may now pursue it.

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Jamie0 I had not given writing short stories a second thought until last year. Now they are front and center and I plan to get several out this year- although with time limitation that may decrease my full length novel output.

  8. This is great news for an author who wants to publish a collection of short stories in the coming weeks. I’ve always worried short stories are not what the masses want, but this has given me a little more spring in my step. Thanks for the post.

  9. Alison Pensy says:

    Thanks for this post, Lois. I hadn’t ever given any thought to doing short stories but now you’ve sparked all kinds of ideas :-)

  10. Zoe Dawson says:

    Lois – I released my first e-pub as a 26k novella and have had a good response. I plan to do a couple of short series. One set will be with Entangled as Flirts and will deal with a secondary romance I wanted to write in the full length novels, but due to word count can’t fit in. Now I can have my cake and eat it too. I also will be doing a kick-ass, Motocross, former marine PI as shorts to fill in gaps in my publishing schedule. So looking forward to these projects and glad to hear about Lunchtime Reads. Have a great day!

  11. Though the first couple of books I wrote were full-length, the first few stories I published were short erotic romances, which weren’t that intimidating to write since they’re mostly about the sex. I do work a lot of emotion into them, but at 5-15K words, they’re not exactly deep…LOL But when a couple of friends and I decided to write an anthology together (non-erotic), I worried about how I’d manage to fit an entire plot into a 25-35K story. But we picked a theme, and I quickly fell in love with my characters, the story flowed beautifully…and our fictitious small town of Redemption was born. :-) I love writing stories of all lengths now, and I definitely have a much better appreciation for the work involved. It’s very heartening to know short stories are becoming more and more popular.

    Thanks for a great post. And the info on Lunch Time Reads. :-)

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Donna-you are right “I love writing stories of all lengths now, and I definitely have a much better appreciation for the work involved” there is no easy way whether your stories are short or long or full length novels- it takes work to make it the very best you can:)

  12. The short story is sizzling hot in the marketplace right now. All fiction writers should be writing them. My publisher is begging me to write more. For some reason, beginning writers always think they need to write novels. But short fiction gives practice, gets you credits and can be published again and again. And–as you put so well here–readers love them. Lunchtime is short.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Nothing teaches you to write tight like the short story format, Anne! Cheers to that!!!

      • Lois Lavrisa says:

        Anne- Oh my goodness this was me-”For some reason, beginning writers always think they need to write novels” I would have never thought to write a short story until this last year- now that is all I want to write (at least for now) I love that your publisher is begging for more short stories. They are smoking hot:)

  13. Mimi Barbour says:

    Some people may think it’s easy to write short – not so! For the story to have all the elements necessary, one learns that every scene, every character and every word counts. But it is fun! Both to write and to read.

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Mimi- yes you are so right! Every character, word, etc counts- just because it is a short story does not mean you short change the reader- give them the best you have:)

  14. Christina says:

    It finally hit me this month as I’m reading Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Rusch, and they kept saying, “new words come first”. But I was tired. I wanted to work on something new, not jump into the next book of my series. The light finally came on and I realized I didn’t have to jump right into that book. I felt they were giving me permission to write short. So I just started with an idea I’d had about a year ago around a character. I already have three ideas for stories and I’m just going to write them and not worry about word count. They’ll be as long or short as they want to be. I’m already writing novellas more so than novels. I think I write better short and it keeps my attention. I don’t know if I could do an 80-100K manuscript. I would get sick of it by the time the first revision was done.

    I’m now feeling ramped up instead of tired and the words are coming with no problems.

  15. Hmm…interesting. Think this may be a way to appease fans without having to kill myself publishing a full length novel. Thank you for opening my eyes, Lois!

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Nancy- you nailed what I tried to convey so thank you !! “Think this may be a way to appease fans without having to kill myself publishing a full length novel”

  16. I love writing short stories, so this is very good news! Will check out that website. Thanks for the info.

    • Lois Lavrisa says:

      Elizabeth- I also love writing short stories:) I do hope you join the website as well. Oh just FYI to all- lunchtime reads is not my website nor am I an owner nor originator of it– I am just a writer (like you) who was asked if I wanted to be a part (as an author) of this website designed to promote short stories:)

  17. R.A. Lee says:

    I decided to take this advice from a previous article and just finished a 30k romance. What is the length of a lunchtime read and how do you submit to lunch reads site?

  18. Michael Harvey says:

    I have written hundreds of short stories. Fifty homemade bedtime stories. One hundred and thirty stories about my time in the army including Viet Nam, Germany and military prison. Thirty stories about working my way through college as a laborer. Well over a hundred family stories about growing up in North Dakota. I published the bedtime stories while preparing an OLLI@UND (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) course on publishing it. Will publish the others in the near future. Expanded my genre with two novels and two movie scripts. Short stories are fun to write and fun to read. Don’t fret, I was the warden at the military prison.

  19. Mona Risk says:

    Great post, Lois. I found myself writing shorter stories all the time now. By short I mean around 30,000 words. They focused on a tight plot, fast-paced, and packed with emotion. No room for sagging middle.

  20. Hmmm…writing short is something I hadn’t really considered but I really want to get more work out there than the 1 or 2 novels I can do in a year. This is definitely food for thought. Thanks!