I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what to use flash/micro fiction for. I've had several flash fiction works published, and the process was quite illuminating.

I'm ready to start exploring short fiction length, aiming for works at 2500 and 5000 words. I have some idea from working in flash fiction that composing stories of this length will eventually teach me what short fiction can be used for.

I also anticipate that the editorial process for short fiction will be much different than what I have currently encountered, because reading short stories takes more time than reading flash fiction and because short fiction allows for a broader exploration of whatever theme I've chosen. Therefore, I imagine it will be harder to find volunteers to read and provide feedback for longer work, and it will take longer to do revisions.

I know I should take some time and read some literary magazines and collections of short stories to get a feel for the length. I should also just write some and see what it is like. That said, I developed flash fiction more quickly when I had a deadline and an editor who helped give me direction.

So I'm looking for someone experienced to share the advantages and disadvantages of two alternative methods I have envisioned:

  • Just freely writing short fiction pieces until I feel like I understand the tool and the differences in the editorial process between flash and short fiction. I imagine in this scenario, I would write something, have a kind volunteer or two read it, revise, etc, then save up several pieces and engage a freelance editor to give me professional input. After I did all that, and hopefully then understood short fiction better, I would look for lit magazines that seemed appropriate and either submit finished work that looked like it met their requirements, or write new material for submission to meet their requirements.

In this scenario, I spend a lot of time producing work before I get to the really helpful parts. I end up with a body of work that is solid, but may sit for a long time before it gets published.

  • Looking for a few literary magazines that I think fit my style, and then use their guidelines, themes, deadlines, etc to focus and give structure to a particular piece or pieces. I spend less time with volunteer readers and instead skip to freelance editing more quickly because I can be much more specific about what my goals with any given piece are.

In this scenario, I spend more money (I'm not sure how difficult it will be to get a freelancer to look at individual works of short fiction), but produce work that is already eligible for submission. Even rejected pieces would theoretically still be sufficiently polished that they could be submitted elsewhere or I could hold them and put them in an eventual collection.

  • This may just be my own misunderstanding, but what do you mean by looking for places to publish? Also--and this is probably a no-duh answer--what do you mean by rejected work? I assume it would be stuff you write and submit, but I'm uncertain because of my first question.
    – JMcAfreak
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 20:16
  • 1
    I was thinking of looking into literary magazines, to see if I could find some that I like that would also have work similar to what I imagine my own style to be. And rejected work, yes, I'm talking about my own, assuming that I don't have a chance of success until I have experience.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


Speaking as a book publisher, I think that some parameters will be the same for short fiction as for books; it would be better to contact the magazines or whichever places you envisage submitting your work to, and asking them for their guidelines. These will tend to differ from one publisher to another.

If you look at the question from the point of view of the publisher, they aren't likely to want to spend time on random guesswork; in the case of book publishing, the bigger publishers get hundreds of submissions each week, so one needs to know what the rules are before writing anything. Magazines are likely to be in a similar position.

If you don't find a friendly editor with time to spare, then it would help to do what you've already mentioned - read magazines and collections, preferably in the genre you like, and supplement this with surfing the net for additional guidance. If an editor can see that you've made an effort before submitting stories, he's far more likely look at your work favourably. Keep in mind that typically, editors have limited time to spare, but lots of submissions to choose from.

  • Most magazines have their submission guidelines on their websites. They'll normally have a link on their front page called 'submissions'; sometimes this can be hard to find, in which case I fall back on googling '<Magazine name> guidelines' or something similar. Several of them that I know have staetments on their guidelines along the lines of 'don't query; just submit'.
    – evilsoup
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 10:07
  • I'm not clear on your answer. Are you saying you think that it is a waste of time to submit to publications without having written many stories on my own first? Otherwise, this is a lot of advice that I already mentioned that I am doing. I have no intention of submitting anything less than a finished product.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 12:25
  • It can very easily be time wasting (for you and the editor) if you don't know the magazine's requirements. It goes even further than their "house rules & style of writing", because they may well not need your subject at that particular time. Yes, it helps to have a stock of stories ready, but it's advisable to first find out what and in what way the magazine wants submissions. As "evilsoup" said above, mag websites often have guidelines for this purpose.
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 14:54
  • I think you are giving helpful advice for some other question. I edited this one to try to make it clearer what I'm asking.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 17:00
  • Oops - if I misfired somehow, I apologize. I'm new on Stack Exchange.
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 17:39

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