Short Stories

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hey everyone! Since I'm currently taking a college course about short stories, I figured that I would write a quick post about how to write short stories.  In some aspects, they're much harder to write than novels because you have to write an entire, purposeful, event in under 10,000 words.  And provide enough information to create an enjoyable and understandable story for your reader!

 First of all, instead of having a major plot figured out for your story, you first have to decide the moral or message that you want to convey.  This is the single most important thing to consider when you're writing a short story: it's not going to make much sense if you don't have a reason to write your story.  "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe could convey the idea that gluttony or greed is a deadly sin.  "The Tell-Tale Heart" discusses guilty consciences.  My short story for my college's arts journal, "The Runner", conveyed the importance of thinking instead of reacting. 

Additionally, you have to decide how many characters you need to create your short story.  Most short stories only have a couple of major characters (1-4) but if more are necessary, obviously, they can be added in.  And like any other work, you'll have to figure out the point of view that you want to work from. 

You will also have to consider other literary elements, such as the tone, style, characterization, etc. -- just like in a normal piece of writing.  However, the most important part of creating a short story is probably your effectiveness in conveying the message(s) you want to a very limited word count.  It might take you several editing cycles before your story reaches its best form.  You don't need nearly as much descriptions in a short story (depending, of course, on what kind of a story you're presenting).  However, you have to be a lot more concise with your deeper meanings and keep the story moving at a constant pace.  In short stories, you have very little room for anything that does not tie into the story.

If you find yourself struggling to write a short story within the accurate constraints, I recommend taking a very objective look at your story, setting aside any personal motive for writing the story, and seeing exactly what's causing the "hangup", kind of like taking a machine apart to see which component doesn't work.  Ensure that the details, while necessary in any story, don't drown out the important parts of the story, but the ending or the driving points aren't forced.  Finally, the majority of techniques that you can use for short story formation are up to you and the story you want to present.  However, these stories take a lot of fine-tuning in order to complete.