Writing Tips for Short Fiction Writers

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Writing Short Stories
by Dr. Mark Clayson

Writing a short story need not be a Herculean task. You don’t 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 you’re 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 can be.

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 life.

Making your Story Interesting

Create tension and crisis in your protagonist’s life by having him or her repeatedly failing to resolve his or her problem. Don’t give out your ending too soon. Keep your readers guessing until the last possible minute.

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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