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Short Story

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"As a story grows shorter and shorter, all the fancy embroidery that length makes possible must go. In the short story, there can be no subplots; there is no time for philosophy; what description and character delineation there is must be accomplished with concision."
Isaac Asimov in the introduction to 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories

A common type of Prose Fiction and a good way for new authors to start out. Short stories are any stories that run up to 7,500 words in length, though some definitions place them as long as 20,000. Due to the discrepancy, short stories can overlap with the Novella and the Novelette but are usually categorized separately. Some people feel a story is only "short" if it can be read in one sitting, but "one sitting" is a very subjective definition due to differences in attention span — even among heavy readers.

Short stories are usually published in magazines and, more rarely, collections. There is a large Pulp Magazine industry that is much easier to break into than the book industry, which makes it a good place for a new writer to build up a resume. And a good place to stage Old Shame.

A lot of Fan Fic takes the form of Short Story.

Compare: Novel, Novella, and Novelette. An Anthology is a collection of short stories by different authors. makes a job of publishing audio version of short stories.


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  • Quite a few short stories vie for "shortest story ever":
    • Margaret Atwood:
      "Longed for him. Got him. Shit."
    • Hemingway's bet-winning short story, though it's undetermined if Hemingway actually wrote this story.
      "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
    • "Science Fiction for Telepaths" by E. Michael Blake:
      "Aw, you know what I mean."
    • "Sign at the End of the Universe" by Duane Ackerson:
      "˙dn puǝ sıɥʇ"
    • Spanish Literature has Augusto Monterroso with his short story "El dinosaurio:" note 
      "Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí."note 
    • "Cosmic Report Card: Earth" by Forrest J. Ackerman: