Book Review: How to Write a Short Story in Five Days


This feature is in association with NetGalley.

How to Write a Short Story in Five Days by Jason Fink

Many thanks to NetGalley and to BooksGoSocial for letting me see an advance reader’s copy of How to Write a Short Story in Five Days.

I was really interested to read what the author had to say about writing a short story in five days as that’s what I try to do if I can, although I do like to set it to cool between drafts as well. This book has some great suggestions and provides a working process that should only take five days. What it doesn’t say is whether those days are consecutive or not, which is fine, because it means readers can try it out to suit them and their writing time.

There are a lot of useful tips and the structure is very well thought out. Aside from bullet points and suggesting what to do from start to finish, there’s also a lot of detail about brainstorming story ideas, characters, research, presentation, submission, and so on.

I do have a few gripes.

Firstly, the book is about writing a short story, yet a lot of the examples used to illustrate points are novels or films, I would have liked to see a few more short story examples.

Secondly, there’s an awful lot of repetition. For example, here’s the section on consistency: “Check for consistency. Make sure that your story is consistent throughout. This includes consistency in character, development, plot points, and setting…” And then, a few pages later: “Avoid repetition: Repeating the same words or phrases can make your writing feel tedious and boring…” Until this point, the author regularly repeated himself.

Thirdly, there are places where the writing reads as though a robot has written it. When the author mentioned AI and Chat for writing (not once but twice!), alarm bells started to ring. But then, at the end, the author explains that he has ADHD, and that made me wonder if that too might make the writing sound a bit staccato.

However, these are minor gripes in what is otherwise an excellent tool (or an important tool as the author is wont to say, throughout) for keeping readers focused when writing a short story. I’ll certainly be using it as a bit of a road map and I might even try out some of the suggestions.

Four stars.