How To: Write A Short Story

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“Short fiction seems more targeted – hand grenades of ideas, if you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them.” ~Paolo Bacigalupi

When someone says the words Short Story, the first thing that comes to mind is: Oh! That must be easy. Hehe, nope. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s hard, but immensely satisfying, and very fun. According to the dictionary, the definition of a short story is: A story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel. They’re usually about 1,500 to 3,000 words, but you can have as little as 500 and as much as 5,000.

Step one:

Choose a focus. Focus can mean a lot of things, like, genre, ideas, emotion, ect. But start by picking a main idea. A lot of stories come from memories. If you have no idea how to start your story, do this. You can give it a twist, or just leave it as it is! Next, if you’re giving it a twist, will there be magical elements? Or maybe more sci-fi? Or even realistic, but just a little more exciting then your memory initially was. A really

interesting thing to do is pick a main emotion to convey. Maybe, for example, your story is about someone dying. This would be a sad story (obviously!) but how would you show that? How would it be conveyed? Jot down your ideas, until you’ve got a pretty good idea of how your story is going to work.

Step two:

Edit the focus. Go into more detail. For instance, who is the protagonist? Is it you? A friend? If you’re unsure of what characteristics you’d like you’re protagonist to have, base them off a a person you know well. If you’re basing your story off of a memory, it’s a little easier. Set the scene. What does it look like? Anything really important that you have to explain. Continue to edit until you have a story line.

Step three:

Write, write, write! With all your ideas, all you have to do is fill in with details and action. Stories all have similar bones.

  • An Introduction, or a beginning hook.
  • Rising action
  • Climax.
  • Falling action (return or fall)
  • Catastrophe, denouement, resolution, or revelation.

I suggest giving yourself a writing schedule. 100 words a day is perfect, and surprisingly not a lot. If you go over, that’s great! But set it as a goal. If you come face to face with writers block (cross your fingers that you don’t) revisite your main ideas, or ask for help. Soon, your story will be done!

Step four:

Edit some more! Although this may be my least favorite step, it’s still very important. Revisit your story, and look for plot holes. Ta-da, your story is done!!

That was a very long post, thanks for getting through it! Have you written a short story? Did you enjoy it? What did you find the hardest, novel or short story? As always, thanks for reading. Maeve

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