OK, make your several offers. Add several contingencies to each offer as follows: financing, home inspection, and review by your lawyer of the documents prior to all parties signing your final P&S.
Then see which offers come back being acceptable, have the home inspection(s) on the one(s) you like, and then have your lawyer write a letter indicating that the ones you really don't want to buy are not acceptable and you are therefore exercising the contingency to withdraw based on legal advice.
If you write your offer this way you will not be in a dual acceptance situation. If you are sure of long delays, write your simple offer on each house you like, wait for the first house to come back accepted and then cancel the rest. But the risk is you get back 2 at once and lose your deposit on the one you don't buy.
You ask, "Can short sale contracts be written such that the buyer can put in offers on multiple properties?"
And my answer is yes! And no! And here's why...
If you are writing legal offers on multiple houses, that's fine. The results may be that you will be buying more than one house--or if your question has a second part--asking how can you write more than one offer but only have to buy one house, then you need very specific language in your offer or you need to be prepared to lose your deposit on the one or ones you don't want. So be careful!
I suppose you would like some free advice on how to make multiple offers, and then having gotten multiple replies, only buy one house that you like. Think of this exercise as asking several young women to marry you and then after they have accepted, you need to settle on just one. It's a lot like that.
And if you put language into your offer indicating that you might not want to go forward if another more attractive property should come on the market, you will be unlikely to be taken seriously by the professionals who are managing the sale of the homes you like.
You will do yourself, your reputation and your bank account a favor if you write ONE offer on ONE property, and indicate that the offer will expire at 8 PM tonight, time is of the essence. Then cancel that offer at 8 PM via email, and have a second offer ready to submit on the second property at 8:01.
I suppose you could make 2 offers at once on 2 different properties, and indicate that whoever is the first one that replies will be the winner--but you will have to offer 2 checks of earnest money, and you may have an issue trying to get the check back from the loser if the loser also had accepted your offer, and you may still get 2 positive replies and the one you like may not be the first one to respond.
This comes down to contract law, an offer and an acceptance without contingencies constitutes a contract. So if you want out, you are breaking a contract--never a good thing to try when money and emotions are in play.
Have fun with this concept,