What are some easy steps to writing a short story?
Want to capture a moment? Want to learn how to write a short story?
Many of us feel as though we’ve got a novel in us.
“I wanna write the great American novel!” we proudly proclaim.
Compared to bashing out an epic novel that requires blood, sweat and tears, a short story seems like small fry. It’s not as glamorous!
But there is an art to writing a short story, as well as a charm to a short story.
And the best thing? It doesn’t have to require your blood, sweat and tears! You can write a short story in a fraction of the time it takes to write a novel. After a few weeks or months, you could have a full collection on your hands that you can then sell!
Sound good? Let’s take a look at how to write a short story the easy way.
Limit Your Scope
It’s important to remember that a short story is a not a novel.
The story (or stories) in a novel can take place over several weeks, months, years or even aeons.
The story can cross countries, and even GALAXIES!
For a short story, though, it’s really important that you contain things a bit. You can totally still criss-cross over several years and countries and continents, but it’s super important that you choose as few moments and themes as possible.
Don’t get too giddy and over-extend yourself. If you populate your story with too many ideas, characters and scenarios, it may as well be a novel.
If you read my stuff, my stories sometimes take place over a few years. But I skim each year and focus on the specifics.
As a beginner, you should try to pick a single moment in a characters life and explore it. Choose just one theme and run with it. Limit your scope for now. Pick a day in a characters life and show us just that day.
Give Yourself A Word Limit
Crafting a short story is all about working within limits. Whereas a novelist has an open box they can climb out of, you’ve gotta stay within set parameters.
So that your story doesn’t run away with itself and becomes an unstoppable monster that you can’t control, give yourself a word limit from the off.
3,000 is a good limit. From there, you can break the story down into subsections. For example, your beginning could be 500 words, your middle could be 2,000 words, and your climax could be 500 words.
This might sound a bit strict, but of course it will vary. However, it’s important to have this kind of framework when you’re first starting out. It will teach you how to work within limits and master the short story medium.
When it comes to short stories and learning how to write a short story, less is always more.
How To Write A Short Story - Stick To Conventional Story Structure
Without structure, stories aren’t always very interesting. And despite your story being short, you still need to abide by conventional story structure.
This means there must be conflict, resolution, secrets and revelations - all things that, as Aristotle noted over two-thousand years ago, are essential ingredients to drama.
And without drama, your story won’t satisfy a reader.
Your composition needs to have a beginning, an inciting incident, rising action, a climax - and a resolution if it’s to appeal to a wide audience.
Sure, writers like Charles Bukowski cared little for a denouement of any kind. But if you’re looking to sell your stuff, conventional story structure will help YOU as a writer to craft your story, and it will also help your reader to find orientation points that helps them to make sense of your work.
These are a few tips on how to write a short story. To learn more about writing, feel free to browse my blog further!