Algis Budrys said stories should have three parts. A beginning: a character in a context with a problem. A middle: the character tries to solve the problem and fails, tries again against higher odds and fails, then tries against even higher odds and either succeeds or fails. An end: validation.
You can’t fit this all into a short story, but you don’t have to. A short story can tell just part of this, any part that can be made compelling. That’s how to keep short stories short but strong. Here are a few ideas for stories:
● This is a story set on a Jupiter mining colony where a fantasy role-playing game becomes the vehicle for a rebellion.
● This is dark fantasy set in several successive centuries about a defrocked shaman who plans rescue the patient who caused all the trouble in the first place.
● This is an elfpunk story in which a hobgoblin of little minds relocates to a suburb and has to fight zoning restrictions.
— Sue Burke