Although I wrote a few short stories when I was a kid, I haven't ever done anything with them and am not sure how they would measure up today. It was fun though to create something that didn't take so many words. Back then, I didn't know rules about short story creation. My stories were simple (always romances).
Then I got into novels. Some of them up to 140,000 words. I only thought about writing anything shorter two years ago when I was thinking it'd be fun to write a Christmas story. I got that idea in the middle of the Nevada desert as we were heading for Tucson-- but it was December. Once I got to our Tucson house, the story virtually wrote itself as I used characters from an earlier novel. When you know your characters, plotting a story goes fast.
When I wrote that novella, I did a little research on what made a book a novella, what were the rules? There aren't a lot in terms of what must be in them. Basically here is the average expectation for length.
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500- 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 - 17,500 words
Short story - under 7500 words
Pretty simple although, like with all this, not everyone agrees, but it's a guideline. Very few romances are less than 80,000 words. Mysteries tend to be around 65,000 and maybe chick lit is the 40,000. Some say a novel has to be 100,000 to 175,000 words but a new author, who hasn't yet been published, can't even get a publishing house to look at a book over 100,000 words.
Novellas have a loose format which is nice when writing like my Christmas story. I didn't have to have all the elements expected in a novel.
Then when I had that dream which led to the recent novella, When Fates Conspire, I believed it was best suited to a novella. It had a point. I didn't want to flesh it out beyond what was required to make that point. The story had something to say and needed to say it concisely and to the point-- which is why I left out the sex scenes I enjoy writing. I consider a lot of my books to be spicy but one recent reader told me they were not and more like you'd see in a movie. Well it's all in the eye of the beholder anyway, isn't it!
Agreeing to do a short story was even more interesting to consider. There have been some very famous short story writers--O. Henry, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, etc. Some in magazines led to movies because in some ways short stories, with their more direct approach, lend themselves well to a film. Some famous western movies like Stagecoach (The Stage to Lordsburg by Ernest Haycox) or Hondo (The Gift of Cochise by Louis L'Amour) came out of magazine short stories.
So what do short stories require: characters, which could be only one; setting including time; plot series of events; conflict where character faces a challenge; and theme-- why is it there? Classic short stories obviously include these and become timeless. It generally is told from one point of view and that might be first person. So a short story isn't just a few words. It has a reason for being.
When I decided I wanted to be part of this anthology, I thought about these issues in deciding my own short story. The thing I wanted was a character I'd already developed. For me characters are a starting point for everything I write. I tend to see my stories as character driven. From them, the rest will come.
Writing my first short story was not only rewarding but then came being part of a group of writers-- another first for me. I had offered to create a blog to promote the anthology and it will be out when the book is published. For the blog, I quickly realized it'd be better if more were involved than me. There were 7 co-authors and two who were integral into it becoming the blog it did.
Along with that, I also created two trailers-- if you can believe it. One of them emphasizes the spirit of western romance writing. The other is more about this exact anthology. They also will appear right before the book.
I gotta say with the trailers and blog, I ended up even dreaming about how to put it altogether. It absorbed everything in me for awhile. I was totally happy when it was done as finally I could get back to my own writing-- and that's when I wrote the rough draft of the second novella for my own trilogy of fantasy romances set in Billings, Montana (research for third one consuming my life right now).
I like challenges in writing and the short story gave me something new on several levels. I hope readers will enjoy it. There is something to be said for short stories in a world like ours where people are busy and on the go.