Tips for writing short stories

We usually think that writing a short story involves less effort because it contains fewer words. However, having the main idea is usually not enough. Here are some tips you can follow to write short stories. By doing so, you will acquire new skills that will allow you to continue advancing as a writer. Remember that you can train yourself professionally with our writing course.

Characteristics of short stories

We could describe the short story as a narration of actions that happen to some characters in space and time. In them, the narrator has the most important role.

A short story should be resolved, generally, in 1300-1800 words, being longer than a short story but less than a novel.

Another of the main characteristics of a short story is that it must give a concise and deep vision of the reality it wants to represent.

It can be based on both real and fictitious facts and, although it is a rule that is generally respected, these stories do not necessarily have to contain an introduction, knot and denouement.

To classify stories, we can broadly divide them according to their verisimilitude (realistic or non-realistic) and their purpose (didactic or non-didactic).

Realistic stories are those that narrate daily events or situations. They allow us to recognize them easily because they are plausible, probable and related to the reality we live.

Non-realistic stories are divided into three main groups:

Extraordinary stories, those that describe situations that are improbable, but could happen.
Fantastic stories, which describe a reality affected by an element that is out of the natural, turning the scenario of the story into something fantastic.
Wonderful stories refer to stories that dominate the supernatural in everything that is narrated (myths and legends).

On the other hand, didactic stories are those whose purpose is to teach or demonstrate something directly to the reader.

The non-didactic stories are those that are carried out for the mere fact of entertaining the reader without the need to teach him anything.

Steps to follow to write a short story

Before starting to write, we must be clear about why we want to or should decide to write a short story. Normally novels are preferred to any other literary genre. What is not taken into account is the time and effort involved in starting to write a novel, especially if we are talking about people who are just starting to write.

Therefore, to acquire fluency it is recommended to start with short stories that allow you, in an easy and simple way, to plan the story you want to tell, how to divide the different actions that will take place or how to eliminate the parts that will be less important to the reader.

Here are some tips you can follow to start writing your short stories:

Think of a topic that you like or motivates you and simplify it

The first step is to have an initial idea. Anything will do: a dream, a story you like or a person who inspires you. All you need is something that motivates you to tell a story. Once you have found this idea, you should simplify it so you can focus on the important details and prevent the reader from getting lost or bored.

Think about what you want to convey to the reader

Once you have chosen the topic, think about whether you want it to be a didactic story, or whether you prefer it to be a story that makes the reader laugh, cry or intrigue, since the approach will change the way you will write the story.

Think about how you are going to convey the message

You already have the theme and the message to convey, but do you know who will be in charge of conveying it? Deciding on the narrator will help you to specify aspects such as first or third person narration or whether it will be an omniscient narrator.

Be careful with adjectives

Adjectives are a double-edged sword since filling a paragraph with adjectives gives a feeling of narrative poverty. It is better to describe why the character arrived at a place than to describe the place perfectly.

Decide the hook of your story

In this type of story, the beginning and the end have the most important weight. The ending will guide you on what to write at each moment, however, the beginning is essential to capture the reader’s attention. Therefore, we recommend that you start with a question whose answer will be discovered as the reader progresses.

Don’t think about the result, practice

Try not to focus on the end result. Ernest Hemingway said: “Practice will be your ally, but always keep in mind that when you write a short story, the first version will only serve to outline what the final result will be. When you correct it, polish it and finish shaping it, then and only then will you have a good short story in your hands”.

Proofread it and correct any mistakes

Before finally publishing your story, let it rest for a few days and review it. Change any expressions or words that don’t quite convince you and check for spelling mistakes.

Read other stories

To delve deeply into the world of short stories we must know the great writers of this literary genre. Immerse yourself in other stories and make the most of them, this will help you to follow a good structure when writing.