How To Write Short Stories – My Way

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 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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’.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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,

A Man Called Otto – Film Review

As I have mentioned previously, I am trying to go to the cinema more often than usual, especially as so many award nominated movies emerge. Following my review of Empire Of Light, I decided to pop along to my local movie theatre and check out ‘A Man Called Otto’ today.

What Drew Me To This Character-Orientated Movie?

Tom Hanks was promoting ‘A Man Called Otto’ on the Graham Norton Show the other Friday when it first caught my imagination. Apparently an adaptation of a Swedish novel – ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman – this story was about an older man who was rather miserable and full of spite. Some new neighbours moved into his street and tried to soften his character slightly. The premise was interesting and I knew Tom would portray the lead role brilliantly.

Otto protected a little street like this.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% audience score

A Sweet Narrative

Otto had lost his wife recently and was pushed out of his job, taking a severance payout and entering retirement reluctantly. He lived in a street where the parking was protected and he made sure that only those with permits dared to park in his street.

The neighbours knew that he did his daily ‘rounds’ and tried to engage with him despite his sour mood. The reason for this grumpy attitude was exposed later in the story. Needless to say he had a fairly harrowing backstory.

A family moved in and started to offer him food parcels and company. Marisol (played by Mariana Travino) was superb as a chatty, pregnant neighbour who wouldn’t take no for an answer and was determined to bring a smile to his tired face.

Recurring Theme

While Otto was constantly trying to find ways to kill himself and join his wife beyond the grave, amusing circumstances disturbed his plans and kept him busy. Marisol worked hard at bringing some fun into his world and giving him something to care about.

A set of challenges faced by other neighbours made his life more difficult still. Otto’s narrative was wonderfully outlined by a good script and careful direction. Tom’s wife, Rita Wilson, persuaded him to make the movie version of the book and she also came on board as producer. Similarly his real-life son – Truman Hanks – who played a younger version of Otto, did a brilliant job. He was the spitting image of his famous father.

Things I liked about it

– Incredible acting by the lead actors

– A flowing storyline with carefully placed nuggets of information that enhanced the narrative.

– Clever direction with emotional flashbacks.

– It had moments of real humour.

In A Nutshell

I laughed and cried whilst watching this wonderful story unwind. Hanks was amazing in this role and Mariana deserves an Oscar for supporting actress too. In my opinion, it was really well written and the different elements fitted together superbly.

I would give this movie a five star review and totally recommend going to the cinema to see it. Now I will have to go and read the original book.

If you found this review helpful, please comment below and consider following my blog for future book and TV reviews as well as environmental articles. A recent TV review I wrote, which might grab your attention, was focused on House of the Dragon.

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,

Smorgasbord Book Promotions – New Book on the Shelves – #mystery #suspense – The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost by Jamie Adams

Delighted to welcome Jamie Adams to the bookshelf with his suspense novella The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost About the book Three guys in …

Smorgasbord Book Promotions – New Book on the Shelves – #mystery #suspense – The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost by Jamie Adams