Tips for Writing a Short Story
Whether you’re writing a short story for fun or for a grade, you may find that it’s more difficult than you thought it would be. Good short stories are easy to read, and that sometimes gives people the impression that they’re also easy to write. The truth is that learning to write a good short story takes a lot of time and practice.
That said, here are a few pointers that can help guide you as you’re writing a short story:
- The main character should want something – Whether she wants to move out of her parents’ house or catch a runaway dog, your story’s protagonist should have some goal she is working towards throughout the story. That goal will help drive the plot.
- Engage the reader’s senses – Have you ever read a story so good that you felt like you were actually there? If so, the author likely made good use of sensory descriptions. Good stories tend to engage all of the reader’s senses; show your readers what is happening with visual descriptions, but also let them smell, taste, hear, and feel things.
- Don’t try to write poetically – A lot of novice writers make the mistake of trying too hard to write poetically. While everyone loves a thought-provoking sentence and a beautifully written description, it’s more important to focus on writing a good story complete with rounded characters and realistic dialogue.
- Keep an overarching theme in mind – Your short story doesn’t have to have a moral or be a public service announcement, but an overarching theme of some sort will tie it together and give it a “point.” A few examples of themes include coming of age, struggling for power, and having an identity crisis.
Keep those tips in mind the next time you’re working on a short story, and you may find that the characters come to life, the scenes are easier to imagine, the language is clearer, and the story seems to have more purpose overall.
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