We all love short stories, but the appeal of these works isn’t just their brevity – short stories are often the perfect genre for exploration, experimentation and the honing of your writing skills. Some of history’s most famous authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, JD Salinger, published notable collections of their short fiction. Ernest Hemingway’s great works, including the Old Man and the Sea are considered long short stories (or novellas) and are an extension of this genre.
Short stories are brief and powerful in their succinctness. Good short stories have well developed characters, story lines and settings just like a full length novel. They’re often a great starting point for beginning writers enrolled in their first creative writing courses. And they’re fun to write!
There are some notable differences between developing a novel and a short story. Here are some tips to keep in mind for short story writing:
Don’t skimp on the basics – you need a beginning, middle and end as well as strongly developed characters, a setting – everything you would include in a novel. You may find yourself streamlining some of your concepts but all of the essential parts need to be there.
Stick to a single simple idea – because your story is brief, you’ll want to follow a single idea or theme to its completion. Including too many twists and turns could confuse your reader – save these for longer works.
Stay with fewer characters – each new character adds more depth and complexity to your story. By focusing and honing in on just a few key subjects, you’ll be able to develop them more thoroughly in your short story.
Stick to a short time frame – a successful short story covers a short time frame thoroughly and in fine detail – you don’t want to be giving a brief overview of a character’s entire life. Paint a short story as you would a single scene from a screenplay – be as descriptive and as detailed as you can be about a brief passing of time.
Brainstorm and develop your story – you as the writer should know everything about your characters, from what they eat for breakfast to how they sleep at night. While these details may be left out of your final work, the brainstorming process should be thorough and complete.
Be creative and explorative – short stories are the perfect way to develop your writing skills and experiment. Try a new voice or explore a different genre and style of writing. Many short stories continue to develop into full fledged manuscripts and ideas.
There you have it, some easy to work with short story writing tips. Now go and get creative by writing an inspiring story! If you need more tips, why not check out some other short story articles.