Tell your reader just enough to make her care about your main character, then get to the the problem, the quest, the challenge, the danger—whatever it is that drives your story. Rather than recite how a Frenchman got to America, merely mention the accent he had hoped to leave behind when he emigrated to the U. Short stories are, by definition, short. Every sentence must count. If even one word seems extraneous, it has to go. In a short story this can often be accomplished quickly, as long as it resounds with the reader and makes her nod.
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The rest of the story is him telling the cabbie how deeply his life choices have hurt his family. The story ends with the taxi pulling into view of his childhood home, only to find not only the porch light on, but also every light in the house and more out in the yard. That ending needed no elaboration. The lights say it all. All writing is rewriting. And remember, tightening nearly always adds power. Omit needless words. Jim walked in through the open door and sat down in a chair. The crowd clapped their hands and stomped their feet.
Learn to tighten and give yourself the best chance to write short stories that captivate your reader. Writing contests are great because the winners usually get published in either a magazine or online—which means instant visibility for your name. Such publications cater to audiences who love stories written in their particular literary category. While, admittedly, this market calls for a more intellectual than mass market approach to writing, getting published in one is still a win. An estranged son visits his lonely mother on Christmas Eve before his planned suicide, unaware she is planning the same, and the encounter gives them each reasons to go on.
In the comments below, write the one-sentence essence of your short story. Share 2K. Pin Need help fine-tuning your writing? Click here to download my free self-editing checklist. What Is a Short Story? And short stories come varying shapes and sizes: Traditional: 1, words Flash Fiction: , words Micro Fiction: 5 to words Is there really a market for a short story of 5, words roughly 20 double-spaced manuscript pages? That implied a vast backstory and deep emotion. I recommend these strategies to generate story ideas: 1.
Recognize the germ. Write it down. Create characters from people you know. Get writing. It looks like this, according to bestselling Dean Koontz : Plunge your main character into terrible trouble as soon as possible. That trouble will mean something different depending on your genre. For a thriller it might be life-threatening.
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For a romance it might mean choosing between two suitors. Everything your character does to try to get out of the trouble makes it only worse. Eventually things appear hopeless. Novels have time to explore the full three-act structure.
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However, in a short story, you often only have space to write a segment of the three-act structure, usually a segment that leads up to a major, transformative event for the main character. The rest of the story is just build up and explanation for that one central event. Finally, short stories only focus on one major character. Novels have room to explore the lives of several major characters. Joe is a ghostwriter, editor, and author. He writes and edits books that change lives.
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Enjoy three short stories in running for Costa Award for free | For Readers | The Fussy Librarian
Good for you. Best of luck on your new story. I hope I still know how to write! Many thanks, Joe, for your simple, complete guidelines on writing a short story.
The Top 3 Short Stories by Franz Kafka
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More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 24, Dena rated it liked it. Nice , simple and easy English stories.