Writing a short story, for most writers, is a fairly simple task. Writing a novel is a major effort that takes many hours to complete. Most people can create a simple short story, however it doesn’t mean they are easy to write. You still need to plan your story, create your characters, and tell the story in much fewer words than in a novel. When written well a short story can be just as memorable as any novel.
Probably the best way to learn how to write a short story is to read short stories. A good book to read is 50 Great Short Stories edited by Milton Crane. Take not of the style and how to write with as fewer words as possible. Also how the characters are developed, how dialogue is used, and how the plot unfolds.
Ideas can pop into your head at any time so carrying a notepad is a advisable to note them down wherever you are. Most of the time you will think of a small piece of the story like a location, or characters name. Ideas can come to you from many sources such as newspaper boards outside a shop, or something you over hear in the street. These can all be built into a good story. Sometimes a whole plot will come to you very quickly but this happens less often. If you need to write a story for a class or some other occasion and you have no good ideas, try looking through a local news paper or a magazine. You could also ask friends and family for help.
There are several step to a good short story, so when you have decided on your idea these are the steps to follow.
• Introduction. Introduce your setting and character’s.
• Initial Action. The action that starts tension rising.
• Increasing Actions These are events leading you to the climax.
• Climax. This is the turning point of the story. The climax.
• Decreasing Actions. The beginning of the conclusion.
• Conclusion. The final part of the story when it all comes together.
Once you have decided on your plot it is often a good idea to write a plot plan to work out what will happen at what time
While a novel can take place over many years, have many sub-plots and characters, a short story needs to be much reduced. No more than two or three main characters and a time limit of days rather than years. Sub-plops should also be avoided. If you cant write your short story following these rules you should look at turning your idea into a short novel.
There are three points of view to tell a story from.
• First-person “I”
• Second-person “you”
• Third-person “He or She”
First person can be limited as you can only tell the story from the one character. What they see feel or hear. Second person is not used very often. The reader becomes a character in the story. Third person is probably the most used as you can tell your story from multiple points of view.
You should now have your characters and plot worked out and written out for you to follow. How much work you will have to do to finish your story depends on how much work you have done in planning. I may be that you just need to fill out the plot into a finished short story. For most it will be much harder than that, and a full story will need to be written.
Its very important to get off to an interesting and quick start. You need to grip your readers attention with the first line if possible. Don’t describe characters or settings in great detail. reveal this slowly throughout your short story. Set yourself targets such as how much you are going to write each day. You will probably run into a few problems, but don’t let this put you off. Keep writing even if you decide to throw away that days writing and rewrite it.
You may decide you want to change your story and adjust the plot or change it completely. Or you may add or remove a character. It’s your story so this is not a problem. You can either write the story letting it develop as you write or re-plan the plot. Its completely up to you.
When you have finished your story go back through it correcting mistakes and editing parts that don’t sound right, or just doesn’t flow. If you have time put your story aside for a few days before doing this, it gives you a bit of distance from your work and allow you to look at it more clearly. You may decide to rewrite parts or even the whole story.