Writing short stories is a great place to start.
Writing short stories is a great place to start if you are interested in long-form writing in the future. By reviewing expert short story writers – we bring you a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to write a short story.
Don’t underestimate its complexity just because it’s called short.
The warmup is important
As it is with any other activity, a good warmup is essential – it prevents fatigue and could give you that last push of creativity to finish your short story.
The best way to get your creative muscles up to scratch is to use freewriting.
What is freewriting? Freewriting is a technique that even the biggest names in the field of short story writing use.
- Set a timer for ten minutes
- Open a dictionary at random and pick three words
- Keep writing for 10 minutes about what might link these words
No editing is allowed.
That serves as a prompt and might provide you with a starting point for your story.
If one-time freewriting wasn’t enough, no worries – try a technique called looping.
Try to find a word or a phrase that excites you even a little bit, from your previous freewriting and make that a prompt for your next freewrite.
Repeat this three to four times until you find something that tickles your imagination.
[BONUS TIP #1]
Go to the park, mall, or café or just take the bus or metro for an hour to give yourself time to watch other people.
Who are they? What are their stories?
Could that inspire you?
All great short stories have a turning point where the main conflict takes part.
The character is hoping for A to happen but B happens instead. The boiling point between A and B might be a decision, dilemma, or insight.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a dramatic event. It can be something emotional or even subtle.
Short stories are typically based around just one pivotal point, in contrast to novels – where we have lots of turning points.
Be a doer, not a dreamer
Don’t spend too much time trying to plan out your story to perfection before starting to write, concentrate instead on writing, revising, and rewriting.
That formula will help your story emerge. Too much thinking has a negative impact on your creativity.
[BONUS TIP #2]
Need inspiration during Covid-19 times? In case you are not allowed to go outside, looking at images or short videos of people could do the trick. Focus on the details.
It takes two to tango, or in this case to bring life to your short story
Dialogues are key for making your characters come alive, just make sure to get straight into the conversation – don’t spend too much time on scene-setting.
Put them in the same room and make them do something together, make sure that the differences in their personalities are clearly visible to your readers.
Add conflicts and arguments – everyone loves conflicts and arguments.
Your characters´ motivation must be crystal clear
Try creating a mind map of your character to understand what makes them do things the way they do.
Visualizing by writing your character’s name on a piece of paper and writing down questions like what’s going on inside their head? What do they look like?
What do they want? How do they think? – usually works like a charm.
[BONUS TIP #3]
Use LivingWriter and create story elements for each of your characters. Instead of using papers and index cards, you can write down your questions in each character’s notes sections or make your own!
Check out how Story Elements work on LivingWriter here:
Less is more
A lot of short story writers make a rookie mistake by trying to squeeze too much information into the first draft.
Don’t be one of them. Focus instead on cutting everything that is non-essential, we’re writing short stories remember? Not a novel.
Sharpening the blade
Some people are saying that it can take up to one year to hone their short story to perfection. That just confirms what we mentioned earlier – just because the short story is short, it doesn’t mean that it is easy to write.
Patience is the key, but when you get it just right it is indeed a very satisfying experience.
Visit Livingwriter.com and select the template that suits you best to get started as quickly as possible writing short stories.