Understanding the Short Story

The Short Story: Theory and Practice

As a publisher and champion of the short story, it is incumbent on Comma to encourage debate - both critically and constructively - about the current state of the form, and where contemporary styles and practices fit in with its wider development. You'll find here a collection of resources that aid and develop aspiring writers of short stories, starting with the basics and defining the three types of short story, before moving on to online short stories archive, genre traits and writing exercises.


  1. The Three Types of Short Story
  2. Evolution of the Three Types
  3. Genre Anatomies
  4. Online Short Stories Archive
  5. Authors Recommend their Favourite Ever Short Stories
  6. The 'Morphologies' Project
  7. Exercise 1: The Epical Short Story
  8. Exercise 2: The Lyrical Short Story

A newly added feature to our Resources selection is The 'Morphologies' Project. The project brings together essays, written by contemporary short story writers including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Ramsey Campbell and Martin Edwards, that each focus on the work of a different short story pioneer from the past century. The essays discuss the structure, genre, language and themes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka and more. You can find them gathered in our recent publication Morphologies.

Our Online Short Stories Archive features some of the fiction discussed in Morphologies, as well as featuring iconic short fiction that is worth reading if you're writing a short story. Make sure you take a look.


Please note that many of the links in this section are to the Librivox Open Source website. Comma owes a debt of gratitude to the many volunteers that have made this such a fantastic site.

To use Librivox or Comma's own audio files, simply left click on an audio link to listen immediately, or right click and 'Save Target' to download the sound file to listen later.