Having now written many short stories and a novella, as well as my first YA novel, I feel like I can call myself a writer. A very new and inexperienced writer, maybe. I do know one thing though. I have learned a lot more about producing short stories since I wrote https://jamieadstories.blog/2021/06/06/how-to-write-a-short-story/ in 2021. This blog post is all about how I became interested in writing short stories and sharing some tips that I have taken onboard over the past four years.
- Study Writing
For me, I knew I wanted to write something back in 2017 but I was not sure what or where to start. So I signed up for a fiction writing night school class which met every Monday. I was especially pleased to meet likeminded people who cared about the writing process.
Unfortunately, this group had become more of a sharing experience. Each week we would read out our work-in-progresses and say nice things to one another. The positivity was great but I didn’t learn anything at all.
Rather than going to a class, I would say the best way to learn is by absorbing a lot of short stories. Different types of short stories from a range of authors worked for me.
- Go With The Flow
My first attempt at a short story was a morsel of an idea about a guy getting his car stuck in snow on the way to work. I decided that I wanted him to meet someone during that incident and find a potential date. So I went for it and produced ‘The Oddest Of Dates’. After showing a few friends, I realised that I had a story with plot points and it kind of worked.
Don’t overthink things. Get something written and show someone you respect. A brother, a best friend, or a work colleague… See if it feels like a story to them.
- Keep The Focus Tight
Make sure that you don’t allow yourself to go off at tangents. Yes, you will need side characters but don’t waste time explaining their back stories. If you want to know how to write short stories, the crucial thing is focus.
Short stories need to revolve around one event or idea. If not, they soon stretch out into novellas and novels. Sometime that can be a good thing but if you want to write shorts, keep them ‘short’.
- Have A Central Character
Too many characters can make a story complicated. Whether it is told in the first person, third person or the close third person (which Liane Moriarty uses), outline one main character. Then make the reader quickly start to care about them. Empathy is powerful and if you can build up a rapport between the lead and the reader – great!
Write about someone’s personal experience. Short stories can educate, entertain, illuminate and indulge. Too many distractions make short stories clunky. Stick to one main character.
- Keep The Pace Up
Most readers who like to read short stories, love quick tales. The good thing about short fiction is you can usually read it in one sitting. Don’t drag it out. Put the reader in the character’s life and detail the situation they are facing. Get them to face their predicament and then stop.
A good short story is easy to read, swift to get to the point and satisfying when it reaches its climax.
- Enjoy The Process
The most important thing for me is that I enjoy the process of putting together a short story. When it starts to feel like a drag, have a break from it. If you are having to force out a narrative, maybe that particular tale isn’t worth telling right now.
If the story feels right, you will love writing and sharing it. If it just feels forced and stale, pop it on the shelf and return to it another time. Or don’t.
Just make sure you get some pleasure out of making short stories.
If you have Kindle Unlimited, perhaps you would like to check out my original short stories. I would appreciate some reads to celebrate the fourth birthday of my book Short Dates. Thank you so much for checking out my bookish blog,