How to Write a Short Story: Bite-Sized Fiction Is Fun

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Want to write a short story? Writing short fiction is fun, and profitable too.

When I came back to writing fiction after spending years avoiding it, I had huge fun making up people and thinking about their problems.

I had some questions about yesterday’s post, Make Money Writing Short Fiction. Readers wanted to know which genres to try, other than erotica.

Investigate:

* Mysteries;

* Romance — any kind, whether sweet, Young Adult (this is becoming a hot genre in fiction), second chance, etc;

* Science fiction/ fantasy;

* Paranormal — vampire and werewolf stories are HUGE…

Write a short story you want to read

Basically, write what you enjoy reading. Fiction is a matter of personal taste, as well as mood. Sometimes I’m in the mood to read Reginald Hill, other times, anything with a horse and a cowboy floats my boat.

As with all forms of writing, make it easy on yourself. If you love to read historical fiction, as I do, you can certainly try your hand at short stories set in the historical era of your choice. (FWIW, I love anything to do with the Medieval era.)

What’s a short story?

From Poewar:

I define a short story as a brief, focused fictional piece that contains at minimum the following key elements: plot, setting, characterization and some sort of resolution.

I’d add to that a theme — to be fully satisfying for the reader, a short story has a meaning, some sort of lesson. However, a theme is unlikely to appear until you’ve written the first draft of a story. With some short stories I’ve written, I didn’t see the theme until many years after I wrote the story.

Therefore, when you’re writing your short stories, don’t concern yourself about the theme until you’ve written the first draft. If you still can’t find a theme, don’t worry about it. Get someone else to read it, you may be too close to it.

According to our definition, to write a short story we need:

* A plot

* A setting

* Characterization

* A resolution

I like to start with the setting. For me, the characters and the plot always arise out of a setting.

So let’s say I wanted to write an historical short story, based in the Medieval era.

I just close my eyes, and muse. Medieval: knights, horses, tournaments, tents, trampled grass, mud… A squire comes along, leading a horse. Tears are leaking down his face…

There we go. That was quick. We’ve got the setting. A tournament, and our first character, a squire, who’s obviously in some sort of trouble.

How long should your story be?

That’s up to you. See how you go. Flash fiction — very short short stories, are under a thousand words. Remember: you need a plot, setting, characterization, and a resolution. Here’s my rule of thumb: when I want to make a story longer, I add another character.

Write a short story with models

There are a mile of story collections on Project Gutenberg. Read Guy de Maupassant. He’s a master.

Have fun… :-)


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Angela Booth is a copywriter, author published by major publishers, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills at her online store. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her novels and business books have been widely published.

About Angela Booth

Angela Booth is a copywriter, author published by major publishers, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills at her online store. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her novels and business books have been widely published.

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