Trafford Publishing knows that although there are no concrete rules to writing short stories, without incorporating a few simple elements, it may be difficult for your writing to stand out amongst the crowd.
We have compiled a list of 8 tips that shouldn’t be overlooked when undertaking short story writing:
Every short story will need to comprise of certain elements to ensure engagement throughout the piece. What does your protagonist want? A goal or desire must be established for the protagonist however, winning the final of a sport match will not suffice – think of something unique and interesting. What significant actions has your protagonist taken towards ascertaining this goal? Readers should be aware of the protagonist’s conscious choice in the early stages of your story. What unexpected hiccups does your protagonist encounter due to his or her choices and actions towards the goal? These obstacles do not necessarily have to be physical – emotional obstacles provoke sentiment and interest for the reader. What moral choice does your protagonist make at the climax of the story? This should preferably come as a surprise to the reader.
Captivating First Paragraph
Always incorporate a catchy first paragraph. Try to include something either unusual, sudden or a situation that invokes conflict. The reason for this is to leave the reader asking questions, enticing them to continue reading to find out.
It is your job to create complicated characters and let them spill their significant traits throughout your short story. In order to develop real-life, multidimensional characters, it is a good idea to list as many things as possible about your character(s) that you probably won’t even use in your story. In doing this, you will have a comprehensive idea in your mind of every characteristic possible for your character. These can be grouped into four areas: appearance, actions, speech and thought. To get you started creating your list, think about age, employment, ethnicity, appearance, hobbies, gestures, temperament, favorite food, phobias, secrets…
Point of View
As a writer, you need to consider which style of narration will be most fitting for your story. Will you story best be told with a subjective first person narrative? Or will it suit better having an objective view by telling the story in third person? Furthermore, to position your readers with a sense of being in the story, you could use the second person narrative i.e. “you” as opposed to “I” or “he.”
Setting and Context
From the very beginning of your short story, it is required that you view your characters inhabiting a distinct place. Setting includes four elements: location, time, context, and atmosphere. Always remember to integrate the characterization and the storyline. Never provide too many details – you want to provide details for the reader, however, only details that contribute to the story. Use at least two senses when describing your setting to provide descriptive details so that your reader can experience the setting the same way your characters do.
It takes conflict to turn the profound ideas of life into a story – conflict is imperative in fiction to keep your reader engaged. Conflict leads to tension, which initiates a story. Opposition between the character(s) and other forces creates this tension. It is your job to balance this opposition in order to keep your readers itching for more.
The climax of your story is the most dramatic instance – it is also the turning point of the story. Never have the crisis occurring too early or the reader will expect another climax or turning point. Similarly, if the crisis occurs too late, your readers will become impatient.
Remember to always present your climax as a scene. It is the moment the reader has been gagging for – make it count!
When writing short stories it is often difficult to offer an absolute resolution. As a result, it is necessary to provide justification that the characters are beginning to change in some way or have a new outlook where things are seen differently.