Book review: Write Short Stories – And Get Them Published (Teach Yourself) by Zoe Fairbairns


Write Short Stories – And Get Them Published by Zoe Fairbairns
Publication date:
 1 January 2012
Genre:   Non-fiction, Education & Reference, Writing
Length:  240 pages
Published by:  Teach Yourself
Available at:

My Rating: 4 out of 5



Written by one of the country’s leading experts on the short story, this book is ideal if you want to write creatively in a genre that is increasingly attracting attention from publishers, and which offers plenty of competition and festival opportunities for you to showcase your work.

This new edition includes up-to-date material on web resources and outlets and provides new information on self-publishing. In addition it discusses genres such as micro-fiction, and throughout is fully updated with new resources, events, slams and competitions.
It will help unlock your imagination and creativity, and to discover stories you didn’t know you had. It will help you to observe the world around you more sharply, as well as to structure, shape and polish your story. It is full of practical exercises that will both inspire imagination and refine skills, and confidence-building suggestions and hints.

My thoughts:

Ever harboured fantasies about being an author, getting paid to write stories? I, for one, am guilty as charged. But I get an idea, get all fired up about turning it into a story, and then get shouted down by the blank page and the knowledge that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Every few months I promise myself that I’m going to enter a writing competition, and then…well, life.

If this resonates with you at all, then I think you’ll find this book as inspiring a read as I do. It’s taken me a while to read it all the way through – I keep waiting until I’ve completed that writing exercise before I move on to the next page – but this time I read it from cover to cover. Of course, like all teach yourself something books, it is not a substitute for sitting down and actually doing the thing. However, it is packed with lots of useful advice to get you writing once you’ve honoured that date you made with your notebook and desk.

Zoe Fairbairns writes informatively as she takes you through the steps of crafting a short story. There are writing exercises throughout the chapters and useful discussion of these exercises too. I can tell that it will be a great book to refer to, even if I don’t have an idea for a story. Fairbairns teaches you the ingredients needed to create something that is a story, and so, with this recipe in mind, you can fabricate something out of thin air. Once you’ve got that first draft down, she goes through the stages of researching, revising, and editing.

The latter portion of the book deals with publishing those marvellous little creations of yours. She discusses how to approach publishers, entering competitions, publishing on the internet, self-publishing, getting your short stories on the radio, and public readings of short stories. If this weren’t already enough, she then has a plethora of further reading suggestions for you, covering publishing, punctuation and grammar, magazines for writers and websites for short story writers. It is almost a little intimidating.

So here I go again, this great little book in hand, to sit down and write a short story. I’m planning to enter it in a writing competition later this month. I’ll let you know how I get on.

(I bought the kindle version of the book a long time ago and have recently ‘dusted it off’ for a fresh read.)


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