A short story is considered one that is five thousand words or less. When creating a short story, a writer will describe as much detail as possible within a limited number of words and action. Often these objects or actions become symbolic which evokes thought on the reader’s part. In addition, it has to get off to a very fast start which means you have to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. This is no time for boring drawn out sentences. Every sentence has to have a punch to it, be able to signify multiple meanings or descriptions. Use a limited number of characters. There isn’t time to go into length, so limit your story to three or four. Use just a few characters and magnify them, make them larger than life. Make the story’s beginning as close to the climax as possible, for example: make the short story about an event just before the conclusion. Don’t drag in a year’s worth of problems.
Short stories usually have some sort of meaning behind them. Know what this meaning is and develop the characters and setting it to emphasize that point. Limit the story to a brief period in time usually covering only a couple of scenes leading up to the major event. Remember, every word and action you write has to point towards the meaning and conclusion. If a word seems awkward or out of place, delete it and replace it with another or change the whole sentence around. A short story has no room for unnecessary words.
Develop your characters so that you know them intimately. You may never use all those details in your short story but you’ll be able to convey their character more effectively if you make it a point to know everything about them. Show their personality traits by including possible habits or movements. Describe a nervous woman by having her chew on her fingernails which were short and ragged. By limiting the number of characters you have in the story, you’ll be able to make it a meaningful story that conveys its message effectively.
Know what scenes you will use in the plot and outline them carefully to make them flow into one another effortlessly. Use a limited number of scenes but make an impact with each of them. Remember to use every single opportunity to create symbolism towards the story’s main goal.
When you begin writing the short story, it’s best to start with a sentence that’s packed with action and promise. Since it’s so short, the characters and setting need to be introduced right away and the beginning of the plot revealed. Pull the reader along by filling their senses with vivid images that become alive in their minds. Explain situations and describe settings by using dialogue and action. As soon as you start the story, you should be going straight to the top where the climax explodes. No digressions along the way or you’ll lose the reader.
Writing a short story requires a precision in planning the whole outline. There can be no wandering or musings. The story has to start with a bang and every single word used in the short story has to be able to convey symbolism or perform multiple tasks. Dialogue can be used to show the setting as well as a person’s character all at the same time. Above all, it needs to flow easily and quickly, carrying the reader from the beginning to end.
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