Sunday, May 7, 2017

Writing a Short Story

Photo: Claudia Del Balso

Most writers (seasoned or not) know that writing a short story is not easy. It has to appeal to the emotions of the readers. Since it conveys the writer's interpretation of reality, the language used must evoke emotions, bring the characters to life, it should suggest a human experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing a short story.
1. Read
In order to be able to write a good short story, you must read other short stories first. It will help you learn how other authors made an impression on the reader and use their style as basis to create your own style and impression.
2. Brainstorm your story
Think of something you want to talk about with your readers. Focus on this idea and think of other concepts that you want to associate with the main characters or plot. What is it that you want to convey? Is there a message or moral in the story?
3. Plan out the scenes
On a separate sheet of paper, write down the possible characters of your story and list the main events in order. By doing so, you will keep your writing aligned with your pre-conceived story events. 
4. Choose your point of view
Who tells the story? How is it told? This is vital for a short story to be effective. Once you choose your point of view, make sure it stays constant throughout your story to maintain consistency. Remember: the point of view can change the feel and tone of the story radically.
5. Visualize your characters
Unlike a novel, too many main characters in a short story can create confusion. For a short story, create a maximum of only three main characters. Your characters have to be convincing; they cannot be flat; therefore, they must speak naturally in proportion with their traits.
6. Writing a good introduction
Make your introduction interesting to hold the reader’s interest and encourage them to read on to the end. Introduce your main characters and set out the scene. The scene must be some place you know much about so that you'd be able to supply the necessary snapshot for a clearly described setting. Do not reveal the climax in the introduction.
7. Build up a great plot
From your introduction, draw out events that will eventually create a problem or a conflict for the main character/characters. Intensify the conflict as the story moves forward. This will keep your reader engrossed in your story.
8. Show don't tell
The characters should be the ones responsible for expressing the story through their actions and dialogue and not the writer telling the reader what is being expressed.
9. Avoid using passive voice
In order to do this, use verbs in the active voice in your story. Instead of saying, "The children were kidnapped by the man”, say “The man kidnapped the children.”
10. Use some dialogue
Don’t use dialogue as filler. Instead, use it to bring your story to life. Dialogue reveals who the characters are. Engage the reader by using direct quotes, for instance, “Call her at once!” Mom said.
11. Finish off in a few words
Make your ending unique but not hanging in a loose end. Make it satisfying without making it too predictable. Keep it short but leave the reader with a feeling of resonance. Your conclusion should wrap up everything from start to finish.
12. Edit and ask for opinion
Go through your story and fix all your grammar, spelling, and construction mistakes. Delete sentences or paragraphs that don’t move the story forward. Have your friends read the text and ask for their opinion as readers. Moreover, a fresh pair of eyes will point out mistakes you may have missed.
With some knowledge on the basic elements and some creativity, you’ll craft a good story. You’ll never know unless you try it.


  1. Now where was this article when I did last year's A-Z Challenge and my short story, dammit!

    Excellent advice which I'll be keeping as my 'go to' template for short story construction.

    A great start back to the blog scene, Claudia. So happy to see you back where you belong amongst us other blogites within this crazy blogoverse we inhabit ;) x

  2. Happy to hear that you'll use this article as reference. Thank you so much! I hope you, too, are blogging.

  3. Good heavens, I thought you'd gone 'off planet'. Good to read another post again. I began with short stories and have several published. My focus now is on the longer and harder to sell novels :)

  4. Hi Mike,
    LOL! You can say that again :)
    Real life took over and blogging took a back seat.
    I am trying to be more assiduous with my blogging.
    Congratulations on your new project! Let me know when your novel gets published so I can share it here on my blog ;)