Elizabeth Sims

Short Story Writing for Publication

Master the essential elements of short story construction


Elizabeth Sims


Live on Nov. 16, 2022, or watch recording


Beginning fiction writers


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

The short story is not only the gateway to writing compelling longer fiction, it’s also a legitimate and exciting literary form in itself. Just about every fiction writer has given short stories a go.

But far too many find the form difficult. Challenging. Anxiety-producing. Why?

Because in a short story, everything is under scrutiny: everything is important. Emotional impact? Gotta have it. Wasted words? Can’t have any! The pressure’s high! But it needn’t be, and shouldn’t be.

Taught by prize-winning author Elizabeth Sims, the 90-minute webinar Short Story Writing for Publication dives deep into the craft of story construction. You’ll learn how to approach the art and craft of authoring short stories as a professional does, with ingenuity and verve. Much of that consists of making conscious choices about craft and technique.

The class will begin with a bit of analytical reading, which will help you see more clearly how top authors get their stories going and how they sustain them. You’ll learn that short story writing is very much about economy of language, expression, and action.

Then, the session will move into techniques to help you create new material freely and without anxiety. You’ll learn foolproof ways—not just one way!—to map out a story with an eye to producing publishable work. Moreover, you’ll see how to leverage key short story elements into something unique to you and your voice. Emphasis will be on how to choose and draft story elements—such as structure, character development, imagery, and conflict—for maximum economy and impact, as the short story form requires.

You’ll learn:

  • Why ask “Why?” when doing a close read of a great story
  • How to produce and embrace a cruddy first draft
  • Two top principles for writing zestful original material
  • Sketching a strong opening character, and why such a character can inspire and drive plot
  • Nailing a character in two moves
  • Painting a scene in two strokes
  • Avoiding the pitfall of weak character motivation
  • One plot map that’s time-tested, and one that’s a bit…anarchic
  • The dovetail, the bridge, and the bookend: Handy hacks to intensify and complete a story that’s only partway there

You’ll also receive: a follow-along outline from Elizabeth to help you remember the essentials and a basic story template you can fill with your own ideas, changes, and improvements.

Who should take this class

  • Writers who love to read short stories and who want to move readers as they have been moved
  • Writers who have authored a short story or so, but struggle to achieve compelling plots, characters, and action
  • Newer writers who are getting serious about the short story form, and want to launch in with solid guidance and a good toolkit
  • Writers who keep receiving form rejections from editors and don’t know why
  • Novelists who want to challenge themselves to write more economically

This class is not suited for

  • Writers who want guidance on long-form complex plotting (e.g., for a novel or genre series)
  • Writers primarily interested in nonfiction, personal essay, memoir and poetry

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Elizabeth Sims

About the instructor

Elizabeth Sims is the author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries, the Lambda and GCLS Goldie Award-winning Lillian Byrd Crime Series, and other fiction, including the standalone novel Crimes in a Second Language, which won a Florida Book Awards silver medal. Like many authors, Elizabeth’s first attempts at fiction were short stories, and her first break into publishing was with a short story.

Elizabeth’s work has been published by Macmillan as well as several smaller houses, and she’s written stories and essays for numerous collections and magazines. She publishes independently under her personal imprint, Spruce Park Press.

Elizabeth has written scores of feature articles on the craft of writing for Writer’s Digest magazine, where she’s a contributing editor. Her instructional title, You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams (Writer’s Digest Books) has been specially recognized by National Novel Writing Month and hundreds of websites and bloggers.

Elizabeth earned degrees in literature and composition theory from Michigan State University and Wayne State University, where she won the Tompkins Award for graduate fiction.

I was really happy with this session. I desperately wanted to learn alternative ways to help write my story and generate ideas for new ones, and Elizabeth delivered. My thought-flow is immensely better.


One of the best writing workshops I’ve ever taken (and that’s saying a lot). As soon as it was over, I sat down with my notebook and couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with my characters. I feel blissfully stoked.


Elizabeth’s instruction was extremely helpful and clear. She wants everyone to love writing as much as she does!


All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 75 minutes, the instructor will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 90 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • A follow-along outline to help you remember the essentials, as well as a basic story template you can fill with your own ideas, changes, and improvements.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.