10. Life Stories Part 3 – Writing Shorts

Author: Nola Published: about 3 years ago.
Tags: autobiography, memoir, shorts, magazines, anthologies, devotions, inspirational, outlets, true stories, life stories Category: Writing tips

My Life as a Tap-Dancing Astronaut is a great title for a memoir, but will the public be interested? Try writing some short pieces first (e.g. magazine articles, true stories for anthologies or devotions for religious publications). There are a number of benefits.

  1. Test the Water – Writing short pieces allows you to try out your ideas on an audience before committing to a larger project.
  2. Hone your Skills – The more you practise your writing and take note of constructive feedback, the better your work will be.
  3. Build Your Credentials – It’s difficult for an unknown author to gain a publishing contract. However, if you already have some runs on the board, it shows that you’re serious about your writing and that you have some of the requisite skills needed for publication.
  4. Impact others – While your goal might be to write a book, don’t underestimate the power of a shorter piece. A magazine article can inspire others and may even attract more readers.

When writing shorts, always follow the required guidelines (e.g. word limit, format). If it’s a magazine, read past copies so you know the types of stories they accept. You can often find sample articles or issues online. Before submitting, ensure that your prose is the best it can be. Constructive critique from others is indispensable.

Here are a few outlets for your short autobiographical pieces. (Click on the links for guidelines).

Reader’s Digest - They accept contributions for the following sections: Anecdotes and Jokes, Smart Animals, Power of Good, and My Story.

Chicken Soup for the Soul – They have new anthologies coming out all the time (see the Possible Book Topics and Guidelines tabs on that page). They’re currently seeking submissions on dreams, hope and miracles, volunteering, Christmas stories, support for mental health professionals, gratitude to mothers and taking time to thrive.

Take 5 and That’s Life – These magazines typically look for stories with a bit more drama. For example, a recent issue of Take 5 included ‘I woke up with a knife in my chest’. However, the same issue also ran a story about a boy who’d donated a kidney to his grandmother. You have to complete a free registration on these sites before you can submit a story.

Guideposts – This magazine is always looking for inspirational stories of hope and faith.

The Upper Room – This daily Christian magazine accepts short devotions that describe how one of your experiences relates to scripture. I’ve had four devotions published in that one. You can access them by typing my name in the search box on the home page. You might have to register for free first.

There are many other outlets of course. I’d be interested in hearing about any you’d recommend.

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