The Focus of a Short Story


In honor of the upcoming release of 21 Days of Grace, the first book in the new series of devotionals for fiction lovers, I thought my readers might like to know more about the authors who contributed short stories to the book. This week’s guest is Robin Bayne.

Robin Bayne graphic

How is writing a short story different than writing a novel?

With a short story, you have much less time to tell a complete tale. You can’t have subplots and secondary characters woven into the main story, because the focus must stay on the main characters. The writer has to do a very thorough editing job, being sure to eliminate unneeded words and phrases. Many authors say it’s much more difficult to complete a short story than a full-length novel. My personal favorite is the novella—a very short novel.


Have you published other short stories?

I really like the short format, and I’ve published many short stories over the years. “Prodigal,” a stand-alone short story, was published in a series of Christian romances. Other stand-alones include “Be Still My Heart” and “The Competition.” I also have short stories in anthologies, including Thatch & Holly, Fiction & Truth, Millennium Magic, and The Gunpowder Review. Some of these are romances, but others were written without any type of formula, similar to a literary story.


What advice would you share for writers?

Read as widely as possible, especially stories in genres similar to what you want to write. Print out and mark up short stories by other writers, highlighting different aspects to see how the story flows. Before submitting anything to publishers or agents, arrange for a critique partner to give you feedback on your work. Also, be sure to read the publishing guidelines for the line you are targeting. Following instructions can keep your work from getting an automatic rejection.


Robin Bayne headshotRobin Bayne is the author of Christian and “sweet” romance, including the Carol Award-winning The Artist’s Granddaughter. Her novellas and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Cup of Comfort Devotional and Millennium Magic. She compiled a collection of devotionals for writers, Words to Write By, featuring work by many well-known Christian authors, including Robin Lee Hatcher and Cecil Murphy. She lives in Maryland with her husband of twenty-four years and works a day job in community bank lending. Visit her at Also