Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May - National Short Story Month

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

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

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
Follow her at Twitter:


  1. 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. 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.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.