How to write short stories

That isn’t a statement it’s a question. If you are reading this for advice sorry I don’t have a clue. I have written one short story for a competition. I enjoyed writing it, there was a word limit so easy to know how long it should be. I showed it to my writer friend who was less than complimentary about it. I did a bit or re-writing but then lost my nerve and didn’t send it off. I still have it I suppose there is always next year.

I now have six outlines for short stories but I haven’t mustered the nerve to write them yet. I know they need the same elements of a novel and have to contain character development, conflict, mystery and twists but in a more condensed form. I have read some brilliant ones in blogs, some just 20 words long. Reading those has made me even more scarred to have a go myself.
Next weekend I shall put my best chin forward (I have more than one) and hold my best leg up (the veins are shot) and write one of them. Any tips and advice before that momentous event would be greatly appreciated.
quill

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30 thoughts on “How to write short stories

  1. First off, relax and take a deep breath. Some have been writing for a long time and have tons of practice time under their belts. Second, like any skill, Writing takes practice and learning to acquire the tools necessary to be good at it. Third, find a rhythm that works for you and run with it. You’ll be much happier in the long run and you’ll show improvement.

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  2. I’m similarly lacking in knowledge about how to do it, so all I can offer is moral support. Maybe you could analyze some of the ones you enjoyed and see if there are common elements (other than the character development, conflict and mystery that you already mentioned, of course).

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  3. No advice really.. just a thought – these competitions are not a measure of your writing abilities or your worth as a writer. Most of the times these competitions run with their own agendas, the judges have their own notions of good writing and bad writing. In the end, it is just too deflating when you see the winner is some fancy-pants “marketable” person. So give it a try, but don’t get too excited about it 🙂
    I would love to read the story, Eric.. willing to share it?? Hehehe, but I guess you’d probably be wary of my criticism too 🙂

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  4. I don’t know what advice to give, I feel rather comfortable writing short stories and flash fiction.
    Maybe you want to join in a few events that train you? There is blog battle every Tuesday you can post a story including the word given and then everyone votes for their favourite (you can vote without participating), one time I participated in flash fiction for aspiring writers you get between 100-175 words and it is fun!

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  5. Actually, short stories are not the same as novels. The characters don’t have a story arc in the short format. They remain unchanged at the end. In novels they should change or develop in some way as an integral part of the story. The short story doesn’t even need a plot as such. Just an incident will do.

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  6. Short stories are not the same as novels. The characters do not have an arc. They remain unchanged at the end of the piece whereas in a novel a character must develop or change or the story is unsatisfying. Likewise short stories don’t need a plot with twists, conflict etc. An incident will do. Trying to make a short story like a condensed novel might be where you’re struggling. They are different art forms.

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  7. Short story’s are just that Eric, short story’s, a beginning, a middle and an end with a punchline that sells the story.
    I’m leaving for Chile South America on the 20th December and returning late February, so will take this moment to wish you a Beautiful Christmas and a great New Year.
    Cheers.

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