So What is the Secret to Writing Short Stories That Become Best Sellers?

  • They still need a definite beginning, middle, and end. As you go, establish an emotional rhythm. Bestsellers have an emotional pattern.
  • You don’t have the space to write out much character development but you need to really know that character yourself. You can allude, infer, hint, and foreshadow, to let your reader know them without using up valuable word space. Remember 10,000 words or less is a short story. Many are only 5 thousand.

  • You must write what you have a passion for. Don’t try to write what you think people want to read. It will be obvious and will flatten your story.
  • You need a definite genre or theme for your story. In a short story, there really isn’t room for an erotic fantasy about a historical science fiction romance. Too many genres and not enough words to fit it in. so stick to one per story. Keep a narrow focus on your short stories. You stand a better chance of making money.
  •  It is still vital to start your story in the middle of the action, don’t try to establish anything other than the emotion and heat of that action early on. Start on the first page deep in the story, to the heat.
  • Your story will be more fun or interesting to read if something is going on parallel to the action of your plot but there isn’t time for a big twist in the story. As an example, you may be having wild sex with your boss but be in the middle of launching a new business venture that is draining your resources.
  • More and more writers are cutting costs and not getting professional editing on their work. If you are one please don’t forget to edit your story at least 5 times. We cannot find everything that needs to be rewritten or taken out in one pass.


Many famous and rich authors seem to understand this ‘code’ of sorts. It is being analyzed by computers with algorithms designed to learn the secrets.
The bestseller code I am after is the subject of a book you should get surprisingly titled: “The Best Seller Code and it is written by authors: Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers.

17 thoughts on “So What is the Secret to Writing Short Stories That Become Best Sellers?

  1. I’ve been thinking about writing my life story and this is giving me some good ideas on how to approach it. OF course, it will be tempting to embellish some bits to make it as exciting as fiction, but many facts and twists stand on their own!!

    1. I would say go for it. Write your story. thank you for the kind words. Many people do add some embellishments to their story. Sometimes our lives are pretty interesting without it. After you see it in writing maybe you will agree.

  2. I want to hire someone for editing stories. However I have never done it before. What do you recommend for me?

    1. I wish I could recommend someone. I have always done my own editing. There are many that advertise online but I would check for good reviews first.There is also good editing software you could try first. Just a thought. is a good place to begin. I wish you luck. let me know how it works out.

  3. Hi, you give me a great idea here.

    I could really try to write a short story once in a while. 5 -10 thousand words is not much at all.

    These are great guidelines to focus on when making a concept of my first story.

    I’ll have to check out the book you recommend too, I would like to do it right, right?

  4. Hey Paul,

    I was headed for the sack but decided to take a quick look at your site and I have to say… I’ll be back for more. Like your previous commentator Penelope, the thought of writing my life story has been an idea tossed around for some time now; however, it’s my younger son who has been doing the tossin’.

    Let me read some more of what you have to say… Who knows, maybe I’ll tackle it myself. Like you I also edit everything I write myself and as you recommend to Furkan on an earlier reply, I too use Grammarly as one of my sources.

    Great site… Great Reads!

    1. Thanks for an incite-full and thoughtful comment SamMi. I hope yo do tackle it. Get some rest. Talk to me when you come back by. Writing short stories or best sellers or your own life story has to be fun and let your passion run wild inside the process. Face all your fears head on. That makes magic happen.

  5. Great post – so true that we have to write what we have a passion for – or we would not keep doing it long enough to get noticed. Thanks for the book recommendation – I know I have a Bestseller in me!

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I hope you do write your best seller. Good luck. Do you enjoy writing short stories? Or any stories?

  6. Hey Paul, I have often thought if writing short stories. Just never been sure how to get them from my head to the paper, so to speak. I enjoyed going through your site, and will be back to go through it in even more detail. Please keep writing and posting, it will be interesting to see where you take us.

    1. Hi Ted. Thanks for the kind words. You should definitely write your stories. Just sit down and start it. Like you are telling someone a story around a campfire. you know what I mean?
      I am most assuredly planning on continuing. This has opened up my mind and I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.

  7. Writing a short story never really crossed my mind.
    Although 5,000-10,000 words don’t seem too hard to achieve.
    Besides, the tips you just gave to writing a best seller and the recommendation on the “The bestseller code” book would really help in case I changed my mind…
    Who knows?
    I would definitely do it in my native language, not English. But I believe the same principles would apply, right?

    1. Yes Elaine, unless a cultural difference made one or more techniques problematic. What is your native language? I’m curious because I am Portuguese and you look just like my Tia.
      I hope you do choose to write your story. That is one of my goals with this blog. It encourages me to keep writing and maybe publishing more stories by encouraging others.
      One cool thing about writing best sellers is what you can do with that skill to make money outside of publishing. Writing small articles for blogs that you manage well can do that. There is a great school that teaches how to do that right here.

  8. Great post! I can see myself using most, if not all of these tips provided that I decide to write a book or short story

  9. Some good tips in this post. I have thought about writing but just not sure I have the imagination! Thanks for breaking down the do’s and dont’s.

    1. You would be surprised at what you can do. Did you ever sit around a campfire and tell scary stories to your friends when you were little? Or to your own kids? When we talk to our family and friends we often go into story mode to share experiences with them.
      Just food for thought. I want us all to tell our stories.
      Thanks for reading.

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