Some tips for writing short stories. Please let me know what you think and add any ideas.
|Draw a mountain shape with five sections as your plot planner.|
The first line relates to the main theme, sets the scene, and names main character, so you need to write this after you know where your story heads. It can be witty, funny, or explore ideas in a striking or original way.
The opening introduces the main character or characters and explains to the reader where the story will take place.
Conflict appears that the main character has to deal with.
The middle point will be the crisis or worse moment in the story where the main character is forced into action to prevent something bad occurring, or has to deal with a disaster.
At the end the conflict is resolved, usually in either a positive or tragic outcome. Try to write a strong conclusion. Often the writer tries to make it unclear as to what is going to happen, until the conclusion. This is where the story is then cleared up, and the conclusion itself ties the information together.
There may be a few resolution lines where the mood returns to peacefulness, or the character looks back on events in a reflective or humorous way to reinforce the main message of the story. You can also end on a cliffhanger.
As you write, try and include some dialogue and description to showcase your writing skills.
A short story should flow easily from paragraph to paragraph. It should contain suspense and draw the reader in.
Here are some questions to help you plan your short story:
What genre does your story fit?
What do readers expect from this genre? Try and include most of these things, but add a few unexpected elements to make your story stand out as original.
A theme is the main idea behind the story. It’s the message the writer is trying to convey. For example, if you were writing about school, perhaps your theme could be about standing up to bullies.
A short story needs a theme, or message for the reader, which will most likely be apparent throughout. Although sometimes the theme is not always clear. Instead, it can sometimes be up to the reader to figure out.
The story’s plot is sometimes confused with theme, but they are completely different. The theme is the idea behind the story and the plot is the events and twists that create and develop the theme or message. Usually a theme is life’s message. It can teach us something, or show something important in life, that otherwise might have been missed.
Think up some imagery that represents your theme e.g. a type of weather, landscape, plant or object.
The plot is the sequence of events in the story, from beginning to end.
Open the story in the middle of action so the characters feel like they have existed all along.
Conflict is where character wants or needs something but they can't get it. Conflict can be internal (where a character has to overcome a belief they hold), or external where an outside force or person gets in the way of what the main character wants.
Stakes - what will a character lose if they don't get what they want? Maybe have a time element in stakes e.g. pressure to get something done in a certain time.
Once you’ve thought of a stake to drive the plot, reflect on if you can make the stake worse.
Foreshadow and anticipate the conflict in the opening to increase anticipation.
Escalate the problems for the main character and test them as you reach the climax of the story.
Exclamation marks, shorter sentence and paragraph lengths create a feel of increased drama.
Some stories withhold information until the end to create interest.
Think about mixing light and dark elements for a stronger story.
Point of view-
Will the story be told in first person, third person or omniscient point of view? Make this consistent throughout.
Within a short story you should find the setting. The setting should create the atmosphere.
What is the world of your story?
Imagining yourself in the setting, write about it using the five senses.
When describing settings, try and pick out the memorable and unusual details about them.
Include some details about the time of year and hour of day so readers get a clear sense of how long the events in the story take.
If you include an ordinary, predictable setting, try and make it quirky or memorable e.g. through interesting descriptive details, metaphors or similes, or pathetic fallacy.
Main character - include their name, age, gender, what they look like, who are their family and friends, their favourite thing to do, what they hate, what matters most in the world to them. What do they need, how do they get it? Favourite song and holiday? Happiest memory? Worst memory? Thing that annoys them the most?
A character might evolve in the story in what is called a character arc.
How do the main obstacles in the plot affect the character? Do they grow as a result of overcoming them?
Secondary characters- distinguish by physical quirks, verbal style, memorable name, extended metaphor e.g. animal like, past event that shaped their life.
Make sure you have relatable reactions and emotions for each character to bring the story alive.
Dialogue is a great way to reveal character traits and beliefs. Have some characters speak in a distinct way to add a realistic flavour to the story. When writing dialogue, include some emotion and personality to make characters sound unique.