Keeping it short

It used to be my writing was short, concise, to the point. With as much impact as possible, in as little space as possible. Such is the job of a newspaper reporter.

Most of my life, I’d dreamed about writing a novel. I looked at library shelves and bookstores with longing to see my own name on the spine of a paperback. My initial attempts at writing a novel, however, proved difficult. Plotting, characterization, dialogue, world-building, all take a different approach than, say, the 800-word, 3-column local county board budget meeting. So my first tries were frustratingly short.

I had to change my frame of mind.

It wasn’t until I was able to reacquaint myself with the prose of writing and creation that I found myself able to unravel an entire middle grade novel. Once I had the first few down, the reverse occurred. I couldn’t write short. A good friend of mine constantly wows me with her short stories. She’s written them most of her life and has some noteworthy publication accolades to her name. The Sun. Strange Horizons. Daily Science Fiction. I also wanted to write short stories – mostly as a breather in between novels. A place for my ideas that didn’t have entire plot behind them to flourish. Somewhere I could put the characters in my head who had a voice that would not be silenced.

The trick, for me, I’ve discovered is always knowing when to turn the car around. Otherwise, I’d end up barreling towards Novel-ville versus putting on the brakes at Short Story Land. So before I start short stories, I ask myself: What is the main character’s motivation? What stands in their way? What is the climax? When does all seem lost? How does it end? If I stick to these mile markers, I've found I can finally keep it short.

My short stories can be found here (Page 151) and here (Page 110) in Black Fox Literary.

Happy reading!

AM Bostwick


  1. This is so true--short has a completely different rhythm!

  2. Agreed. I've been trying long and hard to flesh out several picture books and that's a whole other kind of short that has so far alluded me. I keep plugging away.

  3. I love THE HUNDRED DRESSES so much! I even wrote a scholarly article about it! Thanks for giving it some love here.

  4. So glad I'm not alone!


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