EXCERPT from "I Write Short Stories" by Michael Bracken in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
I write short stories. A lot of them.
In a publishing environment where many writers bemoan the lack of markets for short fiction, I've placed almost 900 short stories. That's 2.7 million words, give or take, or the equivalent of 45 short novels.
When I began writing as a teenager in the 1970s, short story publication was considered the first step to becoming a genre novelist. Writers learned their craft by publishing short fiction in the popular magazines of the day before grappling with the complexity and length of novels. They established writing credentials, providing heft to their query and cover letters, and developed a readership before their first novel ever hit the wire racks at the grocery store.
That doesn't seem to happen much today, and many writers, perhaps encouraged by the ease of publication offered by low-cost vanity publishing companies, leap directly into novel writing without first establishing their writing skills and publishing credentials. Among those who succeed as novelists, some write short stories as an afterthought and some established genre novelists write short fiction only at the invitation of anthology editors.
Michael Bracken is the author of 11 books, including All White Girls, Deadly Campaign, and Tequila Sunrise. More than 800 of his short stories have been published worldwide. His “Dreams Unborn” was named one of The Best American Mystery Stories 2005 and “All My Yesterdays” received a Derringer Award. Bracken edited five crime fiction anthologies whose stories have been short-listed for the Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, and Shamus awards. Bracken served as V.P. of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest chapter. He also belongs to the Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Bracken received his B.A. in Professional Writing from Baylor University.