Fast lives, small screens, short fiction

originally posted March 2, 2013
May 2021: reformatted; some links updated; text revised as noted

In eras gone by, writing short-form fiction (novellas and novelettes, short stories, and flash fiction pieces) was a common stepping stone for authors who needed to prove themselves and find audiences. Assisting in their goals, plenty of digests and magazines, and even some newspapers, provided numerous outlets for building recognition and earning income from quick sales of short pieces. This path to success helped many famous writers work toward justifying larger rewards and contracts—and, thereby, time for writing larger works.

But then came the 1980s, the 1990s, and the first decade of the 2000s, which saw the elimination of most of these literary outlets. Without these avenues for getting short-form fiction to audiences, many in the publishing industry thought the genres were doomed.

However, today’s students and workers with tight modern schedules, electronic readers that allow reading on the go, and those debatable shorter attention spans seem to be reviving the basic short-form genres.

Some insights into this welcome trend appear in a recent New York Times article, “Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories” (posted online on February 15, 2013). The article, of course, mentions omnipresent Amazon, which publishes original short fiction (and nonfiction, for that matter) with its own Kindle Singles program. But, several online publishers, like EveryDay Fiction and Free Stories Center and Fifty-Two Stories are also springing into the picture.

So, get back to those tight, little drafts that you’ve been stashing away. You might have some new outlets for proving yourself to your audiences.

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UPDATE:  While a couple of the stashes cited above do not seem to be actively growing, you can still access the sites for reading and, it seems, contributing. In addition, here are a few new, more current sites that have sprung up since this initial post: ReedsyPrompts, American Short Story, and Narrative magazine. You may have another favorite, but the point is to enjoy: writing, and reading.

image information: Featured image, via MANUALZz, the universal manuals library