Don’t be fooled. Short story writing is not an easy task. Unlike a full length novel, you only have a finite number of words you can use in order to convey a vibrant story. So, you have to make EVERY word count.
Even though you have only 1,000 to say 3,500 words at your disposal, the basic elements of a short story are the same as a novel. You need a beginning, middle and an end, along with engaging characters, structure, theme, plot, and conflict.
It might help to think of your short story as a three act play. Act 1 you introduce your character(s), setting and conflict. Act 2 Complications arise. Tension builds. Act 3 All questions are answered and the protagonist reaches his goal.
No wonder it’s a daunting task! Nevertheless, here are 10 tips to help you on your way:-
- Make your title enticing and relevant to your story. It's a calling card that, if compelling enough, will nudge a potential reader's curiosity.
- Limit yourself to three characters at the most. With little room for character development, 1-3 characters is an ideal number because you will then be able to give each one the attention they deserve.
- Work with one, possibly two settings because, again, as you're working with a low word count, you will still be able to describe your setting(s) and bring them to life.
- Only have one conflict.
- Don't have too long a time period for your story.
- Have one point of view POV character and make him the character who is central to your plot.
- Start your story with a hook, preferably in the first couple of paragraphs. Your reader needs to be asking questions from the very beginning.
- Show the reasons that will prevent your protagonist from reaching his goal. This will add a level of tension and keep your reader reading!
- Make every sentence move your story forward.
- Have a twist at the end. Readers love to be surprised!