Guest Post // Seven Short Story Secrets

Guest Post // Seven Short Story Secrets

Today Rebekah has a wealth of experience to share about writing short stories…

When Kate first asked me to share some tips on writing short stories, she mentioned something about me being the “queen of short stories” which I thought was odd, because I hadn’t written that many of them. Had I? I looked up the length of “short stories” and found some say they are 1,000 to 7,500 or so words while others say up to 10k. So let’s say any stories that are at least 1k but under 9k will qualify.

How many have I written and published?

Okay, I just counted my short stories that are published. I have over 50. I guess I have written a few.

But all that aside, here are my 7 secrets for writing short stories.

1. Stick with 1-3 Main Characters. The more main characters you have, the harder it will be to write a short story. You can have more minor characters, but don’t try to make them all important. Some of my short stories have a large cast, but most characters aren’t even named. Others have very few characters.

2. Keep the Plot Simple. Seriously, if you have a complex plot, chances are you are going to end up with a novel, not a short story.

3. Stick to One Theme not Many. If you try to weave in more than one theme in a short story, it can get confusing and will either end up too long and complicated, or it will end up a mess. You can have a setting be different than a theme. (My Christmas stories are set at Christmas time, but the themes aren’t always just Christmas.)

4. Try to have Few Scenes. If you are writing a really short story keep your scenes to as few as possible. Maybe everything happens in one place with no changing scenes. Or maybe your scenes are short. Many scenes means more words.

5. Describe Your Characters in as Few Words as Possible. If you don’t have a lot of room for words, don’t spend a lot of time describing each character and what they are wearing and how their hair looks, and the exact shade of their eyes unless that is vital to the plot of the story. Try to give your readers a sense of things without a lot of words.

6. Practice Cutting and Tightening. Try writing some short stories with a word limit and don’t let yourself go over them. If you are more than 5 words over the limit, go back and see what you can tighten or cut out. Can you make a sentence have seven words instead of ten?

7. Practice Expanding Your Story. If your stories are falling short of the goal, go back and see what you can add. Drop a little more detail, a few extra words here or there. If you are really needing more words, add another scene or some thoughts from the MC.

Something that I found to be extremely helpful when I first started writing short stories was enlisting the help of my family and friends. I picked a handful of pictures and put them in page protectors in a notebook. (They can be from calendars, magazines, Pinterest, wherever you want.) Then I asked friends and family to help me by giving me a word count that the story must be (ie. 4,250 words, no more than 5k, 7,500 words), and how many characters I could have.

I wrote the info on scraps of paper and slipped each one into the page protector with the picture. Sometimes I’d let my friends pick the picture, other times it would simply be the next one in the notebook. (I would also let them give me special instructions if they wanted like, include ice cream, or make the main character a girl my age, or describe emotions without saying “they were angry, sad, happy, etc.”.) Then I would write.

Tip: Never let your story get more than 5 words over or under the limit.

And there you have it. My seven secrets for short stories.


Rebekah A. Morris has lived her entire life (as of now) in Missouri. Being home educated during her school years was great, except for writing. That was the worst subject (along with math) that she had to do. It wasn’t until after she graduated that she discovered the joys and wonder of writing. Now she can’t write enough. After spending six years in research and writing, she completed her first book, “Home Fires of the Great War,” a 500+ page, historical fiction about home life in the United States and Canada during the First World War. Since then, she has been an avid writer and always has more than one story going on at once because only one story at a time got tiring and dull.

(Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!)

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Gift from the Storm by Rebekah A. Morris // A Review

Gift from the Storm by Rebekah A. Morris // A Review

(admit it, you knew I had to talk about this book)

One cold, dark evening a young stranger appears outside the Morgan home with two small children. Injured and on the verge of complete exhaustion, she will only say that her name is “Amy.”
Where did she come from? Who is she? And what has she been through? Dr. Justin Morgan and his family look for answers as they struggle to minister life and health to the needy ones in their midst.
(from Goodreads)

My Review

I fell in love first with the author’s writing style, then with the vibey cover, and then with the story. (I even read it aloud to a sister right after finishing it, it was that good. 😉 ) Since then, it’s become one of my top favorite indie books, and I talk about it often on my blog and to anyone who will listen.

The cozy, sometimes Christmassy (yes, I’ve chosen to obsess over that part 😉 ) mountain cabin setting was so accurate and beautifully descriptive, it made this country girl right at home. I loved all the characters (Justin the most of course), and Danny was hilarious.

Amy was a very interesting main character. I hadn’t read many books with the amnesia trope (still haven’t) at this point, so I was completely drawn in by her struggles and the slowly unfolding mystery. I loved seeing the Morgan family support her so well and how their ordinary faithfulness and family culture was used by God to bless her so mightily.

My favorite scene was when Amy is holding a glass of water. *chills*

CW: danger, amnesia, grief, off-screen death, speculation about if a character is an unmarried mother.

This intriguing, cozy, and wonderful Christian mystery is forever a favorite. 😉

Add on Goodreads // Buy on Amazon

(Don’t forget to enter the ebook giveaway!)

Get to Know Rebekah A. Morris (+Giveaway!)

Get to Know Rebekah A. Morris (+Giveaway!)

As summer comes to a close, I’d like you to meet one last favorite indie author of mine…

Today I’d like to welcome author Rebekah A. Morris! Rebekah, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi Kate! You already know my name, so let’s start with something different. I’m an Indie Author with over 60 published titles between my novels, novellas, and short stories. I was homeschooled my whole life and spent a lot of time reading, being read to, or listening to audiobooks. I play the piano and violin and sing soprano, and I have 8 wonderful nieces and nephews who are almost all bookworms.

You’ve written quite a few books and short stories (how many is it now?). How did you get to this point in your writing journey?

Let’s see, I believe it’s over 60 short stories if you count all the stories in my collections. That’s a good question. How did I get from hating writing when I was in school, to having so many stories published? After I had graduated and discovered how much fun it was by writing “pretend letters” to some friends for a few years, I started writing my first book Home Fires of the Great War. This was a long book which took six years. During that time I knew I needed to try different writing styles and to learn to use different techniques, so I started writing short stories for practice. Some turned out better than others. I think that was the start. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of writing stories that fit specific word counts, or of writing with specific guidelines. I still write short stories because it’s fun. And I can finish it sooner.

(Later this week, we get to hear more from Rebekah about writing short stories, so look out for that. 😉 ) What projects, writing or otherwise, can you share about right now?

Oh, the projects! Kate, I hope you and your readers aren’t too busy because I have many writing projects to share!

Summer Light (known before as Lawrence & Lenexa) is hopefully going to be released next month. Sorry, I don’t have a synopsis or a cover to share yet.

A Homewood Christmas – This collection of Christmas stories by 6 different authors (and includes my story He is Still Emmanuel) is set to be released October 24th. We’d love to have a few more people sign up to join the Blog Tour and help promote it. (Sign up here!)

The Christmas Key – This is the 2022 Christmas Collection story that will be released sometime before December. Date unknown.

Bessie’s Candles just got published the beginning of this month and is a short Christmas story.

Then we go to my projects that aren’t scheduled for release yet.

“Kate & Kylie” (working title) – is a story mostly about Kylie, a young woman living with her pregnant twin sister and trying to learn to be content with where God has her.

Unknown Title – this is a story that got started by accident. I mean, I really wasn’t supposed to be starting a new story, but I just couldn’t help it and now it’s over 10k words long. What happens when three children show up in a small town and the six-year-old boy picks you as their new Daddy? That’s what happened to Clint Younger.

“Monday’s Mystery” (working title) – Logan Lucas Kent receives a postcard from his baby sister asking for his help. He knows two things: one, she hasn’t called him “Key” since they were kids, and two, she would never ask for help unless she was desperate. I’m still trying to find the sister and figure out why she is asking for help.

There you are, Kate. I said I had a few projects. And that doesn’t count all the other stories that are started or the King’s Daughters’ Writing Camp which will be opening its gates again at the end of October, or the 24-Books-before-Christmas blog posts which I’m working on for my blog.

[Rebekah also recently published book 5 in her Woodbreak series. In honor of this, the prequel is free on Amazon this week!]

Wow, I knew you were prolific but I’m impressed by all you have going. How long have you been an author? What advice would you give to newer/breakout authors?

I’ve been a published author since March of 2011, so coming close to 12 years. My advice would be:

  1. Remember that you are to do all things for the glory of God, and that means writing stories that honor Him.
  2. Remember that not everyone will like your stories. That’s okay. Learn to give all negative reviews to God.
  3. Remember to enjoy your story as you write it!

I love these. Thanks for sharing! What is your favorite way you’ve seen God make your ordinary life beautiful?

He lets me tell stories of ordinary people who let God use them to influence others for Him. I never would have dreamed I would be an author much less that God would use my ordinary stories to bless and encourage others.

Thank you so much for coming!

Thanks so much for having me! I enjoyed it.

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