This was part of a response to a free audiobook of one of my short works (about 12k) words, which you can listen to for free below. The comment was concerning how to keep short fiction short.
Writing short fiction is really a different beast than writing long fiction, and the skills are a different set. If you want to limit length, here are a few easy things:
1) Limit the scope. A few locations, or one, rather than many. A few characters, or even one, rather than many.
2) Keep it to one plot. “A” story only, no sub-plots. Expose the conflict quickly and make the resolution simple to achieve.
3) Tell the story more through prose than dialogue.
HP Lovecraft wrote stories with NO dialogue, and Garamesh and the Farmer is the length it is because I do most of the work in prose, simply summing up the plot points, rather than showing them indirectly through dialogue and character interaction. It is not wrong to “tell” instead of “show” in this way.
That being said, don’t be afraid to write longer stories, either. Pick the style that highlights what you want the story to do. Short stories are usually light on character development for obvious reasons. If you want deeper characters, that’s usually going to come through dialogue, which means more pages.
You can also consider using first-person perspective for short fiction, since that will help you describe the events quite succinctly and will also feature “dialogue” of the narrator through the narration itself, letting you put more personality into the story in a small amount of space.
For help designing a great, consistent creative process, check out THE KEYS TO PROLIFIC CREATIVITY: