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How to Write a Short Story

October 25, 2018

The process of a short story writing can be quite exciting, yet turning your brains at certain moments. In the course of your work on such a short piece of fiction, you’ll face no fewer obstacles, questions, and dilemmas, than a book-length work presupposes.

More than that you can only create a short story you are on, every time working on a new piece of writing you will create a totally different story and will be involved into a totally new creative process.

To produce a literary story of real value, you should demonstrate top performance, brilliant creativity, and awesome work. We present some rough steps and general guidelines below for you to master the craft of effective writing in the shortest possible time. Let’s look into them in more detail.

What a Short Story Is?

It’s a vital question to find out at the very beginning. Not each piece of short fiction can be referred to as a short story and that is an important fact to keep in mind. Technically it is a piece of prose one can read in a single sitting, which is focused on an isolated incident or some series of incidents linked to each other. Such a writing aims to evoke a certain mood with a reader.

It should not be mistakenly associated with short non-fiction articles, a short story is always a piece of fiction, no matter if it’s a traditional short story of 1500 or 5000 words, a flash one of 500 to 1000 words or a micro fiction ranging between 5 and 350 words in length.

In the language of metaphor, a short story was perfect compared to a house by Alice Munro, a house which you can visit and stay there for some time, wander a little, study a lot and come back once you feel you wish to. It can shelter you any time, nevertheless, it exists independently and you can just open new sides of it every time you come back.

As an author, you would strive to create this very impression on your reader and for this, you should get rid of all the cliches you have in your mind and find your own style, bearing no resemblance to any other writings.

What Do You Need to Write a Good Short Story?

There are several factors you should consider before diving head downwards into the creative process.

The main of them is time. You need on average 10 to 20 hours for peaceful writing. Everybody works and writes at different paces, nevertheless, you should have this time at your disposal for effective work.

The idea can even be more important. Every story starts from some idea, you should figure it out, at least in the most general sense, well beforehand.

How to Write a Really Catching Story?

1. Read a lot. Before you start your own writing process, read as many short stories as you can only find, it’s reasonable to turn to classics. Become a diligent apprentice carefully studying the work of a master hand. Familiarize, analyze, evaluate and squeeze the best. Besides, you’ll get a clear understanding of the structure and style used in this literary form.

2. Aim to the heart. The main mission of a short story is to evoke emotions and there are things, which do not leave people indifferent: love, hate, justice, sacrifice. Think what moves you, it will move your reader as well.

3. Narrow your scope. You should create a touching and comprehensive story with a limited number of words, that’s why you are restricted in a number of characters, scenes, and points of the plot. The best pieces of short fiction usually encompass only a short period of the main character’s life just to give your audience a better understanding and background for your main story theme.

Avoid unnecessary details and scenes, like getting from one place to another, for instance, combine characters and go through the story emotional wallop to the resounding ending. Create a story in itself and a bigger picture behind.

4. Grab the readers with your title. You should come up to your audience with an exquisite title, which will hook their attention and raise the interest to find out what lies behind such a story name.

5. Turn to the classic structure. After you’ve hooked your readers’ attention with a perfect title, you should keep it further. No recipe is better for this than to plunge your main character into some adventure right out of the gate. You should do it in a different way in each genre, it’s up to you to decide what trick will work best for your very story. Tell your reader just enough to hold his attention and drive your plot further on.

6. Suggest a backstory, but not more.

The temptation to describe a frosty winter morning in all the sparkling details may really be quite strong, just mention that the main character of your story covered her face against the bitterly cold wind.

7. Leave out the unnecessary details. Every word counts for such a literary form, do not use even a word without purpose, everything should be to the point only.

8. Provide a satisfying ending. Bring down the curtain of your story neither too soon or too high-hitting. It should be gentle and thought-out, clear to your reader even if not disclosed openly. Keep in mind the emotions you should trigger and do your best to achieve the effect.

9. Write, cut, edit.

Now as you have a seemingly finished piece of writing in front of you, your work just starts. You should become the most severe editor to yourself. It goes without saying that spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, cliches should be checked, but you should as well examine each and every sentence for perfection. You should tight your sentences, cross out the unnecessary words, look for the ways of engaging your audience and evolving emotions with it.

10. Break the rules. A short story is always experimenting with words, phrases, expressions, emotions, though it may obey certain guidelines, there are always rules to break. So you should not be afraid of experiments if it helps you to tell your story more effectively. Use lines between genres, try some structural experiments, don’t afraid, but dare to be honest to yourself. If you realize the experiment fails or does not add on value to your creation, just accept it and stop with it.

11. Publish. No literary work is finished until published! It’s not a problem in modern times, you should not go to a publishing house to make your work known. You have plenty of opportunities to publish it on the web and get a feedback from your friends first, colleagues and experts of the field as well as the opinion of the wide audience. Don’t make the greatest mistake of all the unappreciated geniuses, don’t bury your creative writing in a table drawer. To become a good writer you should receive your portion of sound criticism.