You want to write Kindle fiction, and you’ve heard that writers can sell short stories on Amazon. However, you’re unsure how to start. How do you write a short story which sells?
Recently I was working with a couple of writers who were convinced that they couldn’t write fiction. One said, “I don’t have any imagination,” the other said: “I don’t know where to start.” Everyone has an imagination, and more to the point, you can train your imagination to provide you with characters and plots.
We’ll look at “where to start” in this article.
1. Start Your Short Story With a Character.
I’ve been writing fiction for so long that I usually start with a plot. Someone wants something, needs it desperately, and is determined to get it, no matter what. However, if you’re new to fiction, the easiest way to start a story is with a character.
That character may be someone you know, someone in the news, or even a character in a book. The only requirement is that you “know” this person. You know how they’re likely to behave in a situation.
Alternatively, close your eyes, and see what your imagination tosses at you. Say to yourself: “I need someone to write about…” An image of a person will appear – and hey presto, you have a character.
2. Start Your Short Story With a Motive.
You can also start with a motive. My favorite motivational tool is the seven deadly sins: wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. You can create many different kinds of stories from these archetypal character flaws, because they provide motivation.
Let’s say you chose wrath – anger as a motivation. Who’s angry?
If you’re writing a children’s story, you could write about a little boy or girl whose parents are divorcing. The child acts out. Who helps the child? Perhaps it’s a teacher, or an aunt or uncle. With this kind of story, the child, and the adults around him, learn a life lesson as a result of an incident in the story.
Perhaps the child runs away because he’s so upset and angry. If you choose this as your incident, the story may be more adult than a children’s story; it’s your choice. 🙂
If you’re writing a romance (more on genre in a moment), think about who’s angry. Perhaps a young couple is making preparations for marriage. They’re living together, and are discovering different things they dislike about the other person. One of them is angry enough to call off the wedding. What happens? Do they get back together?
3. Start Your Short Story With Something That Intrigues You.
What intrigues you? It can be almost anything. Anytime you think: why did that happen? What caused that? you may have the seed of a story.
In Australia, the trial of Gerard Baden-Clay for the murder of his wife Alison has been in the news. The story captured public attention.
Referring back to our character flaws and motivation, what motivated the errant husband to murder his wife? Did he murder her in a fit of anger? (He denies murder.) Or did he murder her for lust or greed?
Check your local newspaper. People do weird things all the time. You can read your local paper and find the seeds of dozens of stories.
4. Start Your Short Story With a Genre.
Readers have favorite genres. I love Westerns and will read just about anything with cowboys and horses. I also love Victorian fiction, so stories set in the past appeal to me.
If you have a favorite genre, think about the tropes in that genre. Or about your favorite novel. What stirs your imagination about it?
Currently there’s a huge writing industry that’s sprung up around Jane Austen’s novels. Austen’s novels are in the public domain, because they were published a couple of centuries ago. For example, here’s the top 20 Jane Austen-inspired books of 2011.
If you love Austen, and want to use her characters in your short stories, go for it. Millions of people love Austen, so your stories have lots of potential readers.
So, there we have it. Four ways to start your short story. Give them a try. You may be surprised at the Kindle fiction you create… and sell. 🙂
Updated: January 18, 2017
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