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by Dr. Mark Clayson
Writing a short story need not be a
Herculean task. You dont have to put 3000 words or
fill 800 pages to finish a short story. Just about
anybody can make a very good short story. Short stories
can also be as artistically remarkable and moving as a
novel, but you have to know the right formula to create a
short story that sizzles.
It All Begins In Your Mind
Every short story begins in the mind of the author. By
now, you should have read short stories that you like and
have carefully studied and paid attention to how your
authors developed and built their stories. You must have
pondered on probable setups and dialogues.
Inspiration may come to you easily enough although it is
more common that it will elude you. Thus, it is advisable
that if an idea hits you, take note of it immediately
before you forget it.
Telling Your Short Story
Determine the voice of the story. Who will tell the
story? Is it a first-person, a second-person or a
third-person story? Remember that when you choose the
first-person narrator, the story will be limited to what
he sees or feels. You will not be able to explore the
views, feelings, and thoughts of the rest of the
characters of the story.
A Short Story is Short
Long stories have a tendency to drag on and on. Keep your
story short, therefore, especially if youre new to
the field. A short story may encompass a single momentous
occasion in the life of your character or it can span a
single day or just about an hour. Limit the length of
your story. The shorter it is, the more interesting it
Plot and Characterization are Important
Short stories are usually composed of three sections
a situation, a problem for your protagonist, and a
resolution to the problem. These three parts must have a
single theme. Unity and coherence of thought is
important. In a short story, you must be careful not to
add on elements that are not required and that will
become just so much white noise that will detract from
what you are trying to say and relate.
Create your protagonist, antagonist and the rest of your
characters. Your protagonist should be the most developed
character that will elicit the most response from your
reader. He or she must be the person to draw out sympathy
from your reader.
All of your characters must be real. Turn the figments of
your imagination into real, flesh-and-blood people. Give
them their favorite foods, their moods, expressions, and
hobbies. Pepper your story with small details that will
make your characters real to your readers. Give vivid
descriptions and dialogues that will give your characters
Making your Story Interesting
Create tension and crisis in your protagonists life
by having him or her repeatedly failing to resolve his or
her problem. Dont give out your ending too soon.
Keep your readers guessing until the last possible
Finally, create a very good climax. Resolve the story by
having your character settle the problem by ingenuity,
wit, intelligence or any other means that would make your
reader relate with and admire your character.
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