May – National Short Story Month

by | May 28, 2013 | General | 2 comments

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of
genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the
Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.

I hope you spent May reading as many short stories as
possible, since National Short Story Month is coming to a close. According to
Good Fit For Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories“,
the short story is experiencing a resurgence in popularity primarily due to
ebook releases of anthologies in all genres.

While I enjoy reading and writing novels, there is a special
place in my heart for short stories. I have loved short stories since I was a
child since they were like potato chips – I could devour them quickly, and I
couldn’t stop at just one. I liked Edgar Allan Poe and O. Henry. I cut my teeth on ghost legends when I was a
pre-teen. I could never get enough of Hans Holzer and Elliott O’Donnell’s tales
of hauntings. To this day, I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. I’m a huge dark
fiction fan. Toss a Gothic romance on top of a thrilling, spooky tale and I’m
in literary Heaven.

I’m on several “open call” groups on Facebook that
announce submission calls for short stories in science fiction, fantasy, and
horror. I also keep tabs on the ERWA web site, various Facebook pages, and
Duotrope for erotic anthology submission calls. Amazon created its Kindle
Singles program in 2011 to take advantage of this craze. While the Science
Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines a short story as being no more
than 7,500 words, most short story lengths I’ve seen in submission calls are
approximately 5,000 words.

I believe a short story is harder to write than a novella or
novel because every little word counts. Short story writing is a skill that
requires practice. While it may be tempting to wax eloquent with exposition,
such meandering takes up valuable space in a short story that may be put to
better use. You can get away with lengthy, vivid descriptions and running off on
tangents in novels that you can’t pull off in a short story. Therefore, the
short story makes for an excellent writing exercise. You must focus on the main
point you wish to convey, and stick with it to write a solid and interesting
short story.

Here are some short
story writing tips:

1. Work your way backwards. Know your ending before you begin.
That way you won’t find yourself writing a lengthy introduction that leaves
little room for the meat of your story.

2. Write whatever comes to mind. You can prune later. This
tip applies to all writing, but it is especially pertinent to short story
writing. Pruning may become essential. You may find that as you write, your
story really doesn’t get moving until several pages in. You’ll know you need to
prune quite of bit of what falls before that point.

3. Keep track of anthology calls, and have several short
stories going at once. Keep them in circulation until they find a publisher.
Publish as many short stories as you can each year to keep your name out there.

4. Take risks. Write a character study. Write the same story
several times, but from the point of view of different characters. Try
different writing styles and different genres. Move outside your comfort zone,
and see if you can pull it off. Think outside the box!

5. Read lots of short stories. There are many wonderful
collections out there waiting for your hot little hands to hold them. Try the
Mammoth Books of Best Erotica, Asimov’s, Xcite Books short story collections,
Clarkesworld, Cleis Press short story collections. Read modern erotica and
classics. Enjoy all sort of different styles of short stories, and learn from
them at the same time.


Why are short stories
so appealing? Here are some reasons:

* They’re a quick nibble for busy people who don’t want to
take the time to read a lengthy novel. Most short stories can be read within
two hours.

* Instant gratification.

* Anthologies give you many short stories to choose from.

* You may discover a new author with a short story.

* Authors may test-run unfamiliar publishers by publishing a
short story with them.

* Individual short story prices in ebook form are less
expensive than the price of a novel.

* They are easy to read on small screens.

* New writers may build their reputations on short stories,
which take much less time to write than novels.

* Releasing a short story several times per year helps
readers keep up to date with writers they enjoy without having to wait several
years in between novels. In other words, publishing short stories keep writers
relevant and in the spotlight.

* Writing short stories help writers become concise and
clear. Every word counts, so the writer must eliminate mistakes writers may
make such as too much exposition and not sticking to the main point of the
story without getting lost in unrelated tangents.


Some Erotic Short
Story Anthologies

Serving Him: Stories Of Submission

Women’s Best Erotica series (This is the link to 2010)

Aqua Erotica

Like A Wisp Of Steam: Steampunk Erotica

Mammoth Book Of Best New Erotica series (This is the link to
#11, 2013 edition)

Best Lesbian Erotica series (This is the link to 2013)

Numerous short stories in “The Decameron” by
Boccaccio (Sexy Short Stories Of Love, Lust, Adventure, and Misfortune)



Elizabeth Black
writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, and dark fiction.
She also enjoys writing erotic retellings of classic fairy tales. Born and bred
in Baltimore, she grew up under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Her erotic
fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), Circlet Press, Ravenous
Romance, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. Her dark fiction has
appeared in “Kizuna: Fiction For Japan”, “Stupefying
Stories”, “Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2”, “Zippered
Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad”, and “Mirages:
Tales From Authors Of The Macabre”. An accomplished essayist, she was the
sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine nuts4chic (also U. K.) until it folded
in 2008. Her articles about sex, erotica, and relationships have appeared in Seduced Sex Toys, Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet, CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Sexis
Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama Magazine, and Circlet blog. She also writes
sex toys reviews for several sex toys companies.

In addition to
writing, she has also worked as a gaffer (lighting), scenic artist, and make-up
artist (including prosthetics) for movies, television, stage, and concerts. She
worked as a gaffer for “Die Hard With A Vengeance” and “12
Monkeys”. She did make-up, including prosthetics, for “Homicide: Life
On The Street”. She is especially proud of the gunshot wound to the head
she had created with makeup for that particular episode. She also worked as a
prosthetic makeup artist specializing in cyanotic blue, bruises, and buckets of
blood for a test of Maryland’s fire departments at the Baltimore/Washington
International Airport plane crash simulation test. Yes, her jobs are fun.

She lives in
Lovecraft country on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four
cats. The ocean calls her every day, and she always listens. She has yet to run
into Cthulhu.

Visit her web
site at

Her Facebook
page is

Follow her at

Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Elizabeth!

    National Short Story Month! Who knew?

    I agree that it's far more difficult to write an effective short story than a longer work. When you're writing a novel, you can be lazy. In a short story, every word counts – especially when the upper limit is 3500 which seems to be fairly common in the erotica world.

    With regard to your suggestions, I think each of us has our own approach. What works for you will not necessarily be effective for someone else. I find "pruning" to be excruciating!

  2. Elizabeth Black

    I agree that what works for me might not work for everyone. Pruning drives me nuts, too. Short stories are hard to write, but the rewards are worth it.

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