Kicking Off The New Year

Submitted by: Rosanne Gulisano

John Floyd grew up in central Mississippi, attended Mississippi State University and currently lives in Jackson, MS. He served in the U. S. Air Force for four years and had a career as in engineer with IBM Corporation.      

John is a prolific writer of short stories in both the mystery and romance genres. He is an award winning author and has several books of short stories in publication.

John grew up in the era of the half hour TV drama and became enthralled with the short story. Shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Death Valley Days inspired him.

John credits his wife for encouraging him to begin writing his own stories. He came up with a simple formula for the short story: There’s a Problem – It Gets Worse – It Gets Solved. He began marketing by researching possible outlets in Writer’s Market for Short Stories. Five of his first six stories were accepted, followed by twelve rejections in a row. Everyone gets rejected, he assured us.


  • A short story can be up to 20,000 words; easier to sell if less than 7,000
  • Women’s World magazine, one of John’s best markets, likes complete stories of 700-800 words
  • Stories are easier to sell with a little humor and a lot of dialog.
  • John begins by establishing a plot and developing his characters
  • Begin with some action, then fill in the details later


  • Write for the editor or the reader will never see it
  • Editors eliminate bad stories
  • Capture the reader right away
  • Write like a reader; read like a writer
  • Writer has control over the story

Elements of Fiction


  • Decide on a genre—horror, mystery, science fiction, western, romance
  • Have a strong plot
  • Sequence of related events—things have to happen and move along

Characters – Three Ways

  • Good—Write a paragraph about them with a description
  • Better—Show them doing something in character
  • Best—Dialog
  • A Character has to be interesting, believable, even with flaws

In Genre fiction, characters stay the same. In literary fiction, characters develop and change. The ending must be satisfying, even if not a happy ending.

Point of View

It is easy to make a mistake here. Don’t switch POV too abruptly. Put in a new chapter or scene break.

  • First person narrator
  • Third person single narrator
  • Detached third person (Like a camera angle—just observing)


  • Magazines like first rights. Say in your cover letter if the story has been published elsewhere, even if in an anthology or online in a blog
  • An agent is not necessary for short story submissions