Arranging Short Story Collections

Hello Dreamers,

I’ve been knocked out with the flu for the last week so forgive me if this post is a little incoherent.

Last month I wrote and submitted my first short story collection and I wanted to tell you how I went about ordering my stories for submission.

I’d expected it to be a long an arduous process but in the end it only took one morning.

I’d read a lot of articles on the subject prior to this and picked up tips like tent polling your collection. I took all these tips with me when I went through the process I’m going to share with you now.

Step 1: Visualise Your Stories

I knew I was a visual person. So I would want to be able to see the ‘shape’ of my stories before arranging them.

So I built and colour-coded this graph.

I took into account several aspects of each story:

  • Tone
  • Length
  • Content
  • POV
  • Genre
  • World

In the end I only factored in length, tone and genre, but I had a lot of fun with my colour pencils.

Step 2: The Index Card Method but Different

Next I cut up each story so I could easily move them around and play with the structure of the collection.

This process isn’t dissimilar to the index card method of novel planning now that I think about it.

Step 3: Choose Your Order


And here’s my final order.

The truth is, with so many different categories I started getting hung up on the technicalities of the arrangement.

Once I stepped back from that and let my gut do the talking the order came much more easily. 

I still factored in things like length and tone and tent poles, but my impulse of what to put where paved the way. In the end things balance out nicely.

Of course if it ever gets published the editors my change the order completely, but for now I’m happy with it.


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