Wednesday, August 14, 2013


With the luxury of the Internet, learning the craft of writing a short story is just a few key strokes and a click away. I was amazed when I began searching how many resources were available online, in many price ranges (from no charge to $$$) and for variable lengths of time. In compiling this list, I concentrated primarily on information about short story writing -- particularly on writing mystery short stories -- and currency of the materials or course offerings. Please feel free to add to this listing through your comments.

According to Wikipedia,  eHow is an online guide written by contracted freelancers and offering step-by-step instructions on a variety of topics. WikiHow began as an extension of eHow and relies on volunteer contributors with the mission of building “the world’s largest and highest quality how-to manual.”

The following eHow and wikiHow articles offer basic outline overviews of the elements and skills needed for developing mystery short stories:

How to Write a Good Mystery Story
by Joe Turner

How to Write a Mystery Puzzle Story
by Ginger Voight

How to Write a Mystery Short Story

How to Write a Mystery Short Story

How to Write a Mystery Story (with examples)

I grew up in a family of teachers so I really appreciate the value of good lesson plans. The quality of materials for teaching young people how to write is truly valuable, no matter the age of the student. I found two excellent guides written by extraordinary teachers and writers. The first was prepared by Joan Lowery Nixon (1927-2003), an American journalist and author for children and young adults. The second is the work of Penny Warner, this year’s Agatha winner for best children’s mystery and previous winner of the Macavity Award for best first mystery.

Writing with Writers: Mystery Writing
with Joan Lowery Nixon

How to Write a Mini-Mystery
by Penny Warner

The following articles are concise and comprehensive descriptions of the process of creating a mystery short story. What John Floyd packs into 4 and 1/2 pages is an amazing amount of information. All these articles provide excellent explanations and examples of how to craft a mystery short story. And, the only cost is looking them up on the Internet.  

What is a Mystery Short Story? And How Do You Write One?
by John Floyd

Writing for Publication: How to Write a Murder Mystery Story

Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers
By Kathy Kennedy and Dennis G. Jerz

How to Write Mystery, Crime Stories and Detective Fiction
by Marilisa Sachteleben (Nov. 1, 2008)

How To Write Detective Stories: Story Writing and Plot
Write a Story and a Great Mystery

The following are recent texts available in e-book and other formats. The prices are reasonable and the material is good quality. Bunting and Hoff offer online groups with follow up materials and support.

Allen, Michael. How to Write a Short Story that Works. (Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2009) (121 pages).

Bunting, Joe. Let’s Write a Short Story: How to Write and Submit a Short Story! (The Write Practice, 2013) (110 pages).

DuBois, Brendan. Breaking Into The Mystery Short Story Market: It’s No Crime! (Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2011) (15 pages).

Frazier, Rick. WriteCraft: Short Stories and Flash Fiction. (Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2012) (40 pages).

Hoff, Geoff. You Can Write a Short Story! (Geoff Hoff Online, 2012) (49 pages).

Parker Williams, Katrina. How to Write a Great Short Story: A Beginner’s Guide. (StepArt Designs, 2012) (51 pages).

The following course descriptions (including  the sponsor, course name, instructor, dates of the course, brief summary, and cost) are listed in the order in which they will be offered. The courses at the end of the list are self paced and may be undertaken at any time. Please check the links to the sponsors and the instructors to obtain further information about additional offerings.  


Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels
Instructor: Rayne Hall
Dates: September 1 to 29, 2013
This course, including 12 lessons with assignments and feedback, provides instruction about how to write a story as a free promotion for your novel. By the end of the course, students should have a completed short story.
Cost: $16


Focus on the Short Story
Instructor: Mark Spencer
Dates: September 5 to December 12, 2013
This 14 week course, providing weekly reading and writing assignments, provides instruction about how to write short stories that will delight and entertain readers. By the end of the course, students should have improved their skills and have written two short stories.
Text: Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills.
Cost: $435
Class size limited.


Writing (and Selling) the Mystery Short Story
Instructor: Stephen D. Rogers
Dates: October 1 to 31, 2013
This month long course offers the tools to help writers master the short story form. By the end of the course, students should have completed a mystery short story.
Subsidized cost: $30
[NOTE: Because the Guppy Chapter subsidizes the course cost, this class is available only for chapter members. Please check for other classes that are listed at Stephen D. Rogers’ website.]


How to Write a Short Story 101
This self-paced, 11-lesson, online course detailing the fundamentals of short story writing and providing tips for authors may be taken over a period of 6 months with or without a continuing education certificate.
Cost with CEU Certificate: $60
Cost without certificate: $35


Under the tab Lecture Series
Lecture #3

How to Write a Short Story: The Basics.
7 long videos by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, award-winning writer and editor.
Cost: $50.00 


  1. This post is such a gift. I can't wait to use these resources and (hopefully!) write my first short story. Thanks so much for this series!

  2. Hi, Paula,

    Thanks so much for going to the time and trouble to put this together. It's so valuable for all of us who write short stories.

  3. Another excellent list of resources. Thanks, Paula, for bringing them all together for us.

  4. Thank you, Paula, for taking the time to pull together this excellent list of resources! I plan to read many of the articles and take Stephen Rogers' class.

  5. Paula, what an excellent list of resources. This is a blog I'm going to print out to refer to often. Thanks.

  6. Great resources, Paula. Thanks so much for the research!

  7. Thanks, Susan, Jacqueline, Marilyn, Kara, Gloria, and E.B. I appreciate your kind words and hope this will be helpful to you.

  8. Paula, this is another great list of resources. I'm going to keep it. Thank you!