Sunday, January 30, 2011

Writing a Short Story – 5 Key Steps

I’ve found that writing a short story is a whole lot different than writing a novel.  There is the time factor and word usage to take into consideration. I’ve also discovered it takes discipline to keep your short story brimming with exciting life experiences in as few words as possible.   Here are five key steps I found that helped in writing a short story.

The theme is the supporting structure in your short story. The theme is what you glue your plot, your characters, and your setting to. This is kinda like a foundation that holds your story together. Conflict and how it gets resolved wraps itself around the theme of your short story.

Plot is the introduction and series of events that happens throughout your short story. It is the action and suspense. It is the romance and emotion. The plot involves some type of conflict that needs to be resolved and has a beginning, middle, and an ending. A good short story needs a hook in the beginning to draw in your reader in and keep him turning the page.  Then, remember to save the best for last–the surprise twist ending leave your reader satisfied.

Crowding your short story with too many characters can get messy. I’ve found two or three characters is enough. Most of your story will surround an important event that proves crucial in the life of your main character. Every word counts. Too much characterization and description can debase the affect of your short story.

Stick to the theme of your story. Make sure you don’t overpopulate your short story with unnecessary detail. Follow the narrow path of your theme. If you must digress, make it short, otherwise you will lose track of your purpose and get bogged down with a smorgasbord of trivialities that you don’t want.

Keep your short story alive and vibrant by using the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The five senses add depth to your short story. You will see your images more clearly. A character or a setting once flat now speaks to the reader and becomes real.  

Once I’ve written my short story, I go back through and delete unnecessary words or paragraphs that do not contribute to the theme or plot. I try to keep a rhythm and make every word count.
Marlene Cronkhite

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