what is a short story?

This last semester I had a horrid time coming up with any type of plot. In all honesty, I was worried that the plot bunnies that infected and attacked me so long finally decided to move away now that I was older, which meant that writing, at best, would be a challenge and at worse, impossible.

Between that and the fact that I didn’t have much time to write stories, I figured that with the Anges Hyde writing contest at school, I would just wait until Christmas break, write a story then, and I would be fine. I did just that. I wrote Darkness Swallows in about a week, edited it and put it aside to wait.

This is the story that I referenced earlier in that it grew in length instead of shrunk. Originally, I wasn’t concerned that much, because this one contest that is for short stories say to have a story shorter than 17,000 words. So I figured as long as I was less than 17,000 words I’d be fine. (I have, however, been hit on the writing contest in Minnesota for mine being too long.) I’m about 12,000, so I should be fine.

Then, I started thinking about it. It is about 25 pages in length. When I print it. it will be close to 50 pages (I’m submitting it in MLA format because I don’t know how else to submit it. They don’t say.) I fear that I would scare away anyone who looks at a fifty page “short story.”

I started to look up what defines a short story, to get an idea, and I found this on wikipedia:

Other definitions place the maximum word length at anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 words. As a point of reference for the science fiction genre writer, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines short story length in its Nebula Awards for science fiction submission guidelines as having a word count of less than 7,500.[1] In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no longer than 20,000 words and no shorter than 1,000.

This poses some problems to me in a way.  if we even go with less than 9000 words, I am way over. I could possibly go with the contemporary usage, then I’m okay.

However. the problem is that I can’t change it now. The deadline is for it is January 31st. Even if I wrote something today, I would like to have it sit for a while and rest before I edit it. Moreover, I don’t have the time to write that kind of story.

So, instead of looking into this more, I think I’m just going to leave it. There is nothing I can do, beyond submitting one of my older (and poorer) stories. I think that this story is rather good. Hopefully, I’ll have two more years to enter into the contest and by then I’ll have a better clue at what to expect. I am also submitting into the essay contest per my teacher’s recommendation, so maybe I’ll win something. If not, like I said, I have two more years.

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

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