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    How to Write a Short Story

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    How to Write a Short Story
     Admin  Published On Aug 3, 2023 | Updated on Sep 20, 2023  Essay

    Short stories are always fun to read - No extravagancy and no unwanted details. They are only like chocolate cubes. Once you read one, you can't stop until the entire book is over. And it also leaves behind that feel-good impression on you. However, writing a short story is not as easy.

    If you compare, short story writing is slightly more mind-boggling than a novel. It is because you have ample room to provide specifics and describe the plot in a novel. The scope is constrained when it comes to short stories, though. For this reason, you must be both detailed and explicit. You must also determine which components require greater focus than others. This is why you may take time to write short stories that are enjoyable to read, especially if you've never done it before.

    There's no need to get discouraged and back away because this blog will walk you through the process of writing short tales, starting with an explanation of what a short story is.

    What is a Short Story?

    Short stories are fictional prose tales that are shorter than novels and usually have fewer characters. Their main focus is to convey a specific impression in just one or a few key episodes or scenes. The characterization is typically achieved through action and dramatic encounters, but the form encourages concise narration, setting economy, and a lack of complex plots. Despite their limited scope, short stories have the ability to provide a satisfying portrayal of their characters and themes, which can be evaluated and appreciated.

    Most short stories describe minor events with a tiny cast of characters and aim to evoke a feeling; in certain cases, they may even do without a storyline entirely.   

    The origins of short-form storytelling can be traced back to fables, myths, folklore, and long-standing cultural practices. Although most of these stories were passed down orally, few were recorded in writing.

    Always remember that too long and too short are rarely complaints about the length of a story, but rather evaluations of the quality of the writing. Recommended word count for story writing only really matters when you're weighing your publishing options. A fictional piece of writing that is under 10,000 words in length is referred to as a short tale. Nevertheless, the precise word restriction varies, with some periodicals and literary competitions setting a cap of 7,500 words.

    The short story is more like a narrative writing. Before going into the details of how a short story should be written, let's have a look through the steps of writing a narrative piece.

    What are the Steps of Writing a Short Story?

    The essential steps of writing a short story are:

    1. Generating Story Idea

    Short story and book ideas might come to some people like water from a fountain. But for the remainder, writing creatively requires more thought. Here are some suggestions to get you started on the book writing process if you're someone who could use some advice on how to find the greatest novel ideas—from a thriller to a love story to a murder mystery to science fiction writing.

    • One way to find inspiration for your writing is to explore historical accounts, watch documentaries, or keep up with current events. Nonfiction stories can also provide great inspiration for creating fictional works like novels, short stories, and scripts. You might also try self-help books, poems, and podcasts to spark your creativity and discover new ideas.
    • The best story ideas frequently result from intergenerational storytelling. There is a good probability that a great story's ideas will connect with modern audiences in the same manner that they did with earlier audiences if it has survived to the current day.
    • A brilliant story idea has been mined by numerous authors from the characteristics of a best friend, family member, or co-worker. In order to see if it inspires any story ideas, the next time you're with individuals you know well, make a few notes about their behavior—either mentally, in a notepad, or on your phone. Your companion can end up playing a significant supporting role in the story or even the lead role.
    • Whether it's a current favorite or the first book you genuinely adored as an adult, revisit one of your favorites. Consider what aspects of the storytelling appeal to you as you reacquaint yourself with the story.
    • Have you ever heard of alternate history fiction? It's a type of speculative fiction where the author changes key events in history and creates a story based on those changes. It's an interesting way to explore how things could have been different if history had taken a different course.

    2. Developing the Characters

    Here, let's focus on character development with 5 ways to tackle characters in your short stories.

    • When writing a short story, it's not necessary to cover every aspect of a character's life in detail. But even in a brief piece, character development should not be overlooked. Take the time to get to know your characters, even though they are a product of your imagination, they should have their own unique personalities.
    • Consider how each word in your story advances the story's plot. Nobody is interested in reading a long list of qualities. Without seeming like you're supplying characteristics for a police sketch, you should incorporate things like body language, size, facial expressiveness, voice, gait, and unique features (particularly for nonhuman characters).
    • Living things don't have only one dimension. Not even three-dimensional, they are. They have several dimensions.
    • Making your characters relatable requires leaving room for doubt about whether they are "good" or "bad". Even if your characters aren't even remotely realistic, it doesn't matter because what matters is how they are characterized. Nothing is black and white, but your audience needs some form of a protagonist to root for and an opponent to root against.
    • When writing about characters, it's more effective to describe them than to dictate how readers should perceive or feel about them. Lecturing readers can be off-putting, so focus on incorporating descriptions of your characters' looks and actions in a natural way. Avoid unnecessary exposition, and don't place too much emphasis on the significance of this information. Let your audience enjoy the story without interrupting it with analysis.
    • You can describe your characters in detail by using their relationships. For instance, a character's approach to confrontation with another character will convey information about both her background and certain facets of her personality.

    This brings up the value of deliberate and organic discussion once again, but it also gives it a fresh perspective. Conversations connect together the various dialogue fragments to produce gadgets.

    3. Outlining the story

    For an efficient outline, make sure to do the following –

    • Your story premise serves as the foundation of a solid outline. The concept is a one- to three-sentence synopsis of the plot.
    • Consider the characters in your novel once you have a plot notion in place. What are their wants and motives, how do they dress, what is their history, and how will they deal with the main conflict in the story?
    • Your story's setting needs to be as vibrant as its characters. The second step is to create the planet in which your characters reside, whether your idea takes place on Earth or in a far-off realm.
    • When creating your scenarios, take into account even the slightest elements to give additional layers of sensory and visual description.
    • It's time to begin creating the real essay outline when you've thought about your characters, scenes, and overall goal for the story. The plot-based technique, scene-based approach, themes-based approach, and Freytag's approach are just a few of the four methods you can employ.

    4. Beginning a Short story

    A story's first paragraph establishes the tone for all that follows. An opener is similar to an appetizer because it gives you a taste of what's to come. You might not know the direction a tale will take when you first begin to write it. That's alright. Play with the options! Try out a few of these tactics –

    • Begin with action or dialogue
    • Ask a question.
    • Describe the setting.
    • Begin with background information.
    • Have the main characters introduce themselves.

    Practice each starting point. Consider a recent occasion when you made a significant accomplishment. Try each approach to begin a story about that period. After that, swap narrative ideas with a companion. Find out which of your story's openings piques your partner's curiosity the most.

    5. Writing the First Draft

    • It's important to maintain discipline while writing because staring at a blank page can be intimidating. It's crucial to develop solid writing habits as you complete your first draught, whether you're creating a book, short story, or screenplay. For your writing sessions, locate a peaceful, noise-free area.
    • Maintain regular hours and make an effort to meet set performance goals. Write more if you're having trouble coming up with ideas: Spend your assigned writing time on writing exercises or free-writing. It's critical to establish a routine because the drafting phase requires a lot of time and effort.
    • To ensure the authenticity and credibility of your work when writing about a particular region or historical period, conducting preliminary research is crucial. However, be careful not to devote too much time to research as it may hinder your writing progress. Start your writing process by doing the necessary minimum research required to begin your draft.
    • If you encounter any obstacles while working on a specific section of your project, it is advisable to set it aside and focus on other aspects. For example, if you face any difficulty while creating a world-building or character introduction section, you can skip it and move on to the next chapter. You can always return to it later, but taking a break and moving forward can often provide fresh insights that can help you overcome any creative hindrances.
    • A first draft is threatened by perfectionism. You won't ever finish your draft if you keep rewriting the same paragraph to the point of perfection. You'll probably discover as you write that your draught is full of errors and uses weak language. That's okay at this point because you'll have plenty of time during editing to clean up your work.

    6. Editing Your Story

    The first draught of your story, which is a complete rendition of it from beginning to end, is complete. It is now time to edit and improve your writing to make your story captivating and clear so that the reader will read past the first sentence.

    • First things first, do the basic grammar and spelling check. Then, get a printed version of your story. Before you switch from essay writer to reader, let your story sit for a day or two, give it time to breathe.
    • Out loud, read your story. Any terms that are repeated or don't make sense should be circled with a marker. Circle any passages that require you to stop and reread and carry on reading.
    • Remove any paragraphs that are unnecessary for the story's development or merge related paragraphs. A brief narrative might only have one scene. Nevertheless, consider how the beginning, middle, and end are balanced.
    • Make sure that your dialogue is easy to understand for your readers. If you find any parts confusing, your readers will likely feel the same way. Fix any unclear areas. Additionally, ensure that the environment described in your story is realistic and believable. Use small details and your senses to bring the scene to life and make it more vivid.
    • Circle all of the verbs on a new printout of your tale after making revisions for story structure. There are two varieties of verbs: active and passive. Check your statement for the passive voice and consider whether the active voice or the passive voice would make the meaning clearer.
    • Using clichés in your writing puts it at risk because your readers have already heard them. In fact, they have heard them so frequently that they are meaningless.
    • Additionally, depending on their cultural identities, other cultures may interpret the cliché in different ways. As a result, draw attention to the same in your stories and delete them.

    7. Ending the short story

    • A concise closure that cleanly ties up all the loose ends and plot points is sometimes the finest way to end a story. You know how annoying it can be when you feel like a plotline has been overlooked or ignored. To avoid that conundrum, make sure the final outcome of every character in your book is revealed in detail.
    • Cliff-hanger conclusions leave certain plot points unanswered. If you want your readers to be giddy with anticipation for the following book in a fictional series, you must decide whether to end your novel on a cliffhanger.
    • A twist ending is a great choice if you can pull it off effectively. This type of story ending can have the highest level of impact but is also very difficult to get right.
    • Some readers dislike going into a story, not knowing how it will conclude. Others adore having the freedom to make their own decisions.
    • Your preference of genre may also have an impact on whether or not an ambiguous conclusion is appropriate.
    • Epilogues can be an effective way of adding a sense of realism or depth to your story. By suggesting that events carried on far after the main action ends, it gives your reader the feeling that the story took place in a believable world rather than one that existed purely to serve the plot.

    8. Titling the short story

    Here are some general tips to title your short story –

    • The more words you use in your title, the more likely it is that people will forget what it is called. Titles ought to be memorable. Additionally, longer titles don't fit as well on book covers or spines.
    • Always remember to Google the title before choosing it. It can be really problematic for you if your story's title is the same as that of another narrative.
    • It can be entertaining to name your novel after a significant plot development but avoid giving away any important plot details in the process. After all, you don't want to undermine the tension.
    • You may make a title that people will remember by using rhyme or alliteration. Just watch out not to go overboard!

    How Do You Know If Your Story Idea Is Good?

    Getting feedback is essential, no matter how skilled or unskilled a writer you are. It's natural to want to write your best work when creating a short story, but it can be daunting. Receiving constructive criticism, however, can help you refine your story. Having someone provide an objective perspective can assist you in learning, growing, and ensuring that your message is conveyed as intended. When you're the one who wrote the story, it's difficult to read it with a critical eye. This is just how we're wired when learning to write a short story or anything else. To improve, we require input from others.

    How Do You Get Better At Writing Short Stories?

    Writing short tales frequently is the best approach to developing good short story writing skills.

    When you write frequently, your mind develops the habit of being imaginative and considering short stories.

    Write as many short stories as you can to master the craft. You'll get better, and it will get easier as you practice more. So, even if they aren't your favorites, set a goal for yourself to write a particular number of short tales each week and stick to it.

    How Can You Make Short Story Writing Part of Your Routine?

    To make writing a part of your routine, follow the following steps –

    1. Write daily and remain consistent to make a habit out of it.  
    2. If you are not used to writing daily, it is better if you start with small targets. Do not try to complete one entire story in a day. Take a slow yet steady drill.
    3. Try to sit down with somebody who has the same passion. Writing together can be very encouraging and it will be fun as well.
    4. Start keeping a journal or start a blog. This can contribute significantly. You can try ideas like posting one small episode of your story daily. Or you can try to complete a story in two to three days and finally post it on the final day.
    5. Getting ideas on a daily basis for writing is not so easy. On days when you have zero ideas, try using the writing prompts.

    How Can You Use Short Story Writing to Share a Message?

    Short stories have a reputation for delivering a potent emotional punch despite their brevity. Unlike novels, they require you to take your readers on a journey in a shorter period of time. As a result, they must have a central idea or message that you intend to convey, which may range from accepting oneself to challenging social norms. To achieve this, consider how you want your readers to feel after reading your work and what you want to accomplish. While it's great if you only want people to enjoy the story, what readers learn from it is what gives it significance and appeal.

    Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

    Q1. What are the elements of a short story?

    Here are the compulsory elements of a short story

    • Characters
    • Setting
    • Plot
    • Conflict
    • Resolution
    • Theme

    Q2. What makes a great short story?

    The elements that make a great short story are – uniqueness, emotions, conciseness, climax, and impact of the story.

    Q3. Is it hard to write short stories?

    No, it might be time-consuming but it is not difficult. You may pass successfully at the first attempt but do not be disheartened. Keep trying and you will have your first story out soon!

    Q4. Where can I publish share and publish stories?

    You can publish and share short stories via – literary magazines, social media, writing communities, blogs, etc.

    Q5. How long should be a short story?

    Usually, the appropriate length of a short story is around 7000-7500 words. Usually, it is not less than that but at times it can be more than that depending on the requirements and the purpose.

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