How to Write a Long-Lasting Short Story

| Posted in Writing.

Writing a short storyCreative writing is probably one of the hardest forms of writing to get right. Fiction always has to capture the imagination of the reader and be able to transport the reader to wherever in world the writer is taking them. Writing short stories might be harder because writers have fewer words in which to tell their story.

Short stories are loved by readers as they are a quick, enticing read that can make them sad, happy, or furious in minutes. Other readers love short stories because they get to the point quickly; which is something that cannot always be said for novels. It is generally accepted that a short story should be about 7500 words or less, which is approximately 25 pages.

Writing a catchy short story may be difficult, but we have four tips that may help you overcome those stumbling blocks.

1)     Start with a theme

The first thing you need to consider is the theme of the story. Be sure of this before you even start writing. What are the main ideas that you want to leave with the reader? Once you have the theme, stick to it! As tempting as it may be to digress, don’t. Every word in a short story counts and should contribute to telling the story well.

2)     The characters

Try not to add too many characters, unless they will enhance your story in some way. Every character must add something worthwhile to your story. If not, then do not add that character. Try to have at least two or three main characters.

3)     The plot

A catchy plot that will have the reader unable to put down the book is absolutely necessary. The characters need to be immersed in the plot from the get-go. A gripping short story grabs the attention of the reader from beginning to end. The trick is to keep the reader unaware that the story is about to end, then on the last page or last few sentences, pow! it ends on a strong note. Depending on the story, the ending should leave the reader sad, bewildered, or excited.

4)     The structure

The rules regarding story structure still apply. So, you still need a beginning, where the main characters and setting are introduced; middle, where the conflict between characters occurs; and an end, where the conflict is resolved. These rules aren’t made to be broken, unless you are planning to write a completely fresh and out-of-the-box story, which is always welcomed by publishers and readers alike.

The time span within the story needs to be very short. Short stories usually cover a single event that is pivotal in the lives of the characters. The story could cover an event occurring within an hour or a week.

Short stories require writers who are gifted with words; who can capture the imagination of readers in one line. This is not easy but if you can do it, you might be sitting with a world-class short story on your hands.


Written by Zimasa Mpemnyama

Image credit: julio.garciah, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr


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