How to Write a Good Short Story

Writing short stories is a great way to polish your writing skills and find yourself a great audience at the same time. People love short stories because they can read it in less than an hour. They can jump in for a quick read while commuting or while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room.

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Being short doesn’t mean short stories can’t have an impact. If you know what to put in your story, the story may even be remembered for a lifetime.

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So, here’s what you need to write a good short story…

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#1. Stick to a central theme

A novel can have more than one central theme but a short story cannot. Stick to one major theme for the characters to resolve at the end of the story.

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If you’re having trouble finding a theme to write about, just look around you for problems that common people must deal with. You could write about a mother of a newborn who hasn’t slept for days or an elderly worrying about his pet sugar glider not wanting to eat.

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As long as you have a character with a problem to solve, you’re good to go.

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#2. Have the ending ready

Ideally, you should already know how the story ends before you write the first sentence. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss haven’t got the clue of how season 8 should end. That’s why the storytelling was so bad for that last season. Seven seasons of build-ups and character growths went down the drain just like that.

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When you have a clear picture of the ending, every word you write between the first and last sentence of the story will point to that singular point. With less chance of you derailing from the ending, it’s easier to keep the short story short.

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#3. Put your characters in a pinch

George R.R. Martin doesn’t hesitate to bury a lovable character six feet under. You don’t need to put the characters in mortal peril, but you still need to put your characters in a situation where a direct solution isn’t so obvious.

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For instance, when a character is kidnapped, don’t make it so a police officer just happens to pass by and save the day. That’s plain boring.

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#4. Keep extraneous details away

A short story should be no longer than 8,000 words, but many writers aim around 2,000 to 5,000 words since that’s the normal range.

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To ensure the story doesn’t get overly long, never add irrelevant details to your story. For instance, if your main character’s brother has a Tourette syndrome, make sure it’s relevant to the progression of the plot. If at the end of the story, his condition makes no difference to the outcome, readers will wonder why you bothered to mention it in the first place.

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#5. Add a strong narrative voice

A narrative voice is the point of view the story is told from. You’re free to choose a first, second, third-person limited, or third-person omniscient perspective. It all depends on how you want to depict the fictional world.

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New writers tend to go with the first-person perspective since it is arguably the easiest to write. However, consider trying to write in third-person as it gives you the advantage of an onlooker watching things unfold.  Such perspective allows you to direct the story in more ways than one.

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When the story doesn’t progress as well as you want it to, change the perspective. You may need to rewrite the whole story, but if that what it takes to come up with a great story then you have no reason NOT to do it.

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#7. Let the antagonist shine too

Loki was supposed to be the bad guy in the Marvel universe. He killed numerous people and tried to do the same to his brother on numerous occasions. And yet, so many people love him. That’s what happens when you add depth to a character.

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Loki was not just a madman. He was an emotionally-unstable, adopted madman, who always felt he wasn’t good enough. He also showed a different part of him when Frigga, his adopted mother, died. His act of redemption also helped to put him in many’s people good books.

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#8. Draft first, edit later

There’s no point in trying to get everything right on the first try. Let your creative juice flow freely. When your first draft is done, revise it and make the second draft and so on.

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Once you’re satisfy with your work, then you can worry about things like spelling and grammar. Even then you don’t need to fret since you can use the online spelling checker to get everything right.

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