Writing a short story might seem a little tough for the first time, but when you learn the basic tips and tricks of short story writing than you fall in love with short story writing. Follow our simple tips to write your short story from start to finish.
Let’s begin with the basics of a short story-
What is a Short story?
A short story is a story in a short form typically divided into some categories:
- Typically, any piece of fiction written under 8000 words comes under a short story.
- Traditionally, most short stories are written [1500-5000] words.
- The shortest form of the short story we call it Micro-fiction comes mostly under 500 words.
- A longer ‘’short’’ story a novella typically under [20,000-30,000] words
The given seven tips in this article are proven processes and techniques recommended and followed by most of the writers, even mine before writing a short story or even any work of fiction.
Now let’s know all the techniques of writing a good short story step by step.
So let’s start.
Tips on Writing a Short Story
(From Start to Finish)
1- Get the Idea for Your Story.
Coming up with a great short story idea is the biggest struggle for every beginner before actually start writing any work of fiction.
But a story idea revolves around us every time, we just need to think from a different perspective, or let’s say the perspective of a writer.
Most of the writers get their story idea from their own memories, unforgettable events of their life since childhood, experiences from day to day life, people they meet, whom character they found very fascinating, mysterious, sorrowful, or the journey they did in past and gained new experiences along with the problems they faced or their biggest fears, etc.
So you can get your story idea from anywhere, you just need to take some time to think.
- Pro writing tips: If you are yet struggling with getting the idea for your short story, then start reading as many short stories as you can. The more you will read, the more your imagination will grow, and then your mind will adapt the mechanism of generating fiction of your own. So read, read, and read.
2- Choose an Emotion
Figure out the main strong emotion of your story which will move the whole plot.
Your story idea must have an overwhelming emotion on which the whole story will revolve around.
So the main character in your short story may be experiencing a sad emotion or showing extreme anger and looking for redemption, experiences happiness, great fear, etc.
The most engaging emotions which tempt the readers to stick with the story till ends are: love, tragedy, anger, fear, sacrifice, happiness.
3- Create a Bunch of Strong Characters
Start with the protagonist-
Create your main character first (the protagonist) and then the other minor character of the story, but remember to keep the number of your characters small.
Related: How to name your main character
Just create a bunch of strong characters and don’t struggle to think and work about every character because when you will actually start writing the story you will create some more characters and maybe eliminate some.
Note- The protagonist is also used as a person who narrates the story so if you don’t want to make the author or a third person as a narrator you can present and narrate the story by the protagonist.
- Pro writing tips: Never let your readers predict your character’s every aspect like what they are capable of doing or their virtue and vices, etc.
4- Create Troubles
Troubles– In any story troubles play a big role to hook its readers, that’s why the reader has to finish the story to see how the crisis is affecting the life of the characters and how they will overcome it.
You have to create any kind of trouble or a major crisis or a huge problem in the life of your characters because no one is interested in reading a story even by bestsellers that will start happily and also end happily so make sure there is some kind of major trouble or a crisis in the story from the beginning.
Make things worse– Don’t let your character solve the troubles so easily.
Like even if your main character is very thirsty and the river is just at a stone throw away distance from him, make it hard for the character to reach the river.
- Pro Writing tips: Try to put some circumstances (links) in the story which can later help the protagonist to solve the crisis by getting the important information which he collected from that situation.
5- Create Curiosity from the Beginning
- Curiosity– You should try to create curiosity in the mind of your readers with your opening lines, like in my first short story The Drunken Ghost starts with the opening line –It all had started in the summer of 1992. After reading this the reader will think about what had happened in the summer of 1992 and from the beginning, it will create the zenith curiosity to know more.
- Surprise– you should also try to surprise your readers with your opening lines Like the legendary writer J.R.R Tolkien, who starts his novel The Hobbit with this surprising opening line-“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”
So take your time and come up with a good opening line or initially you can also start writing the story by writing temporary opening lines and later can change it with a strong one.
Below are examples of some of the best opening lines-
- ”It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”– Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- ”It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”– 1984 by George Orwell
- “Mr. And Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”- Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone by J. K Rowling
6- Keep Events Short
Remember, you are writing a short story not a novel.
By name, it’s a short story so if you are thinking of elaborating every event in the story or writing a big description of every character, or scaling up the beginning, the middle, or the ending of the story, then you first have to understand that there is no big room for everyone here, you are writing a short story so you have to fit your every stuff every character in one room along with making the balance between the beginning, middle and the ending.
Put your focus mainly on your main characters, the protagonist, and create everything around him/her by not exceeding the traditional limits of a short story.
7- Create an Awesome Ending
A good ending will let your reader remember your story of their entire life.
If the first impression is the last impression, then the last impression also plays an important role in the next impression.
Create a great ending by answering all the crucial questions of your reader’s mind which has emerged while reading yo story and settle all the disputes and important events perfectly.
But If you are thinking of writing a sequel to your created short story, then you can leave the important questions and events unexplained to maintain suspense and mystery.
8- Reread Your Story Like a Stranger
After giving all the blue blood and sweat now your first draft is ready and its time to pass it to the first reader of your story, whom you have chosen from the entire universe, who is going to judge your whole story and will also, suggest some changes and edits in the story and if he doesn’t like he can also change the whole plot and you will obey him like him a slave because your first reader is non another than ‘’YOU’’.
If you don’t get a satisfying view, read again.
9- Edit Your Story Ruthlessly
At once Thomas Browne said-
Rough Diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.
Don’t be a miser in editing your story, edit it like it’s not your story draft but someone else.
Cut the character, scenes, and events living in your story for free and taking unnecessary space in your limited short story space.
Don’t let anything stay in the story just for increasing the length or reaching your word count goals.
10- Rewrite Your Story
If you are not satisfied reading your story and you think there are many, many loose points that can’t be fixed through editing then I will suggest you rewrite everything.
The chances of you writing a better story after writing the first draft of your story get doubled.
About the Author-
Neel Rana is a successful short storybook author, flash fiction writer, literary enthusiast, entrepreneur and the founder of Pandora Post. He holds a degree in BA Honours in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. You can read more about him here