25 Tips to Write a Good Short Story
Short stories are not the same as novels but are equally popular. Many prefer to start their writing career with a short story as they are hesitant to write an entire book. If your short story is a hit, it can open doors for so many new and exciting opportunities for you.
1. Before writing your story try to summarise your story in one line, so you understand what your story is going to be about.
2. The title must have the spotlight it deserves. A poor title for your short story will convey your lack of interest. Make it enticing and entertaining.
3. At the beginning of your story, make the first few paragraphs of your story gripping. This should grab your reader’s attention. A good way of doing this is to create a question in the reader’s mind that he wants to know the answer. For example:
I’m tied to a tree, living a nightmare set amongst a panorama of beauty. Over the past week I’ve been dragged up a mountain by my captor, his cruel eyes betraying a desire to which he’s unable to succumb. He needs me as he believes me to be – untouched.
This is taken from the story The Treasure No Thief Can Steal.
This opening paragraph forms the scene and places questions in the reader’s mind: Why is the narrator being dragged up the mountain? Why must she be untouched? What will her captor do when he finds out she isn’t virginal? Your aim is to make the reader curious.
4. Try different POVs to find what fits your story. Narrating the story through a character who is notof prime importance is a common mistake upcoming authors make.
5. Using similar character names such as Ben, Jen, Len confuses the readers, so keep different names that don’t sound so similar.
6. Keep it simple. Don’t confuse the reader by having too many characters. Writing between 2,000- 5,000 words ( most short story competitions have word count limits between these figures) doesn’t give you much room for character development.
7. Use Active Voice. Readers usually prefer Subject + Verb + Object. Majority of the writers use it often.
8. Brains take more information when its broken down. Any article is usually divided into short paragraphs.
In casual, everyday writing a paragraph can be as short as a single word or a sentence. Try to keep the paragraphs short and crisp.
See what I did there?
9. Throw out fluff words like very, little, and rather. These words are not only unnecessary, but also suck the life out of your sentences.
10. Use the main character to show the impact of any plot changes and its effect.
11. Your readers will fall asleep if they keep reading the same thing over and over again, so just don’t repeat what you write.
12. Overwriting is not a good ingredient when it comes to writing a story. The reader comes first. Focus on what you want to convey to them.
13. Be realistic. Don’t bend your character to suit your plot. Keep them in their character at all times. Every character should react the way they do respectively, and not as the plot dictates. This will help your story be stronger.
14. Always avoid cliche. Find new and interesting ways of saying something rather than saying it in a trite way.
15. Having an end planned while you plan the outline of your story helps you go in the right direction. Some prefer to keep writing and see where the story takes them.
16. The ending of the story must be the most satisfying to the reader. Although some books don’t answer all the questions, it can be disappointing.
17. You need to have undivided attention while you write. Protect when and where you write. The only people important while writing are the characters in the story.
18. Always a carry notebook. This way you can jot whatever comes to your mind and put them together later.
19. Read every sentence aloud to yourself to make sure it’s well written. This helps.
20. Know your audience. You need to know what your target audience likes, so you write a book that can create an emotional tie with them.
21. If you can make your readers feel any emotion through your story, then you have done your job.
22. There will always be similar stories to what you want to write, so don’t back out. It’s like eating your favourite dish at every restaurant. With your story being the dish, readers can’t get enough.
23. You need to know more about your story than readers, so you can write with confidence. You only tell your readers what you want them to know.
24. Delete, shorten, rewrite anything that does not add meaning. Omit any extra words unless you need them. The best way of doing this is to write something and set it aside for a few hours. After you return, you’ll know exactly what you want.
25. Patience is key to writing a story. Nobody gets it right the first time, and giving up is never the option. Afterall, all good things take time.