How to

How to Write a Short Story in 6 Simple Steps

Having readers fall in love with your work can be quite heartwarming. Not the shout-from-the-roof-top kind of heartwarming, but exciting all the same. For authors like Valentino Caronte, inspiring a breed of writers whose work outlives them is the finest form of art. Here is how you can choose the theme of a story.

So, how can you create a snowball effect through a surge in readership? Here are six steps to transforming a short story from meh to exceptional.

1. Start with an Idea

A bountiful harvest starts with a seed. The same goes for creating a story. What idea do you have in mind? Is it something your readers are interested in?

Let’s face it, all writers aren’t cut from the same cloth. While some are overflowing fountains of ideas, others need some prodding (and time…lots of time) before they can put their thinking caps on and develop coherent ideas. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from working on your story. Provided you ultimately have an idea, you’re good to go.

2. Have a Goal in Mind

Short story authors don’t have the luxury of time. Your story might only have a few minutes to shape your narrative, and before you know it, it’s all over. So, everything needs to unfold quickly, which often means dropping readers into the thick of the action. 

A goal allows you to establish the ideal plan of attack. Don’t be afraid to experiment, play around, or try a new approach, provided your purpose is in mind. Since you’re not at liberty to shape a lengthy narrative, you might have to weave your backstory into the fabric of your piece.  

3. Start Strong 

If you don’t want readers to whizz past your story, start strong to hook them. In a competitive sprint, the runners who get off to a good start get the chance to stay ahead of the pack. Someone might say it doesn’t matter how you start. Well, if you have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention, it’s advisable to take your chance.

Strike the right chord with your tone, even as you introduce your main character. Be sure to give the character a trait that is likely to linger in your readers’ minds. You can use imagery to create a compelling start that sets the stage for the events that unfold in your story. For instance, vividly detailing a scenario may garner immediate attention and could prompt a reader to follow your plot and storyline.

Another way to open a story would be to paint a picture of the narrative you have in mind. Although this might not work with every reader, a well-thought-out description can fascinate a reader who might otherwise brush your story off.

4. Take It easy

Let your ideas flow freely in your initial draft, and don’t pay too much attention to whether some of the wording makes sense and other nitty-gritty.

You don’t need to fish out your fine-toothed comb just yet. Focus on the task at hand, which is to create a compelling narrative. Editing can take the back seat for a moment, as attempting to do so as you write can disrupt your flow of thoughts. In turn, your story might end up being disjointed or all over the place. That’s not what you want.

Provided you have a goal in mind, that’s all you need to channel your energy towards. Just write. You can fix the errors later.

5. End on a Strong Note

A weak ending can be underwhelming for most readers. Imagine reading a captivating story, only for the conclusion to fall on its face and skinning its nose for good measure! Such an anticlimax can easily shoo your readers away.

In my opinion, a compelling ending needs to revolve around the protagonists in your story. What have the characters learned? What truths can readers glean from the story?

Be sure to create a piece that keeps readers glued to your narrative by investing in the characters you present. The picture you paint in their minds needs to be compelling enough.  If you feel that your readers might care about a plot twist that encapsulates your story, or about a character in question, then it might be time to edit your draft. 

6. Edit Thoroughly

Go through your work with a fine-tooth comb. Yep, it’s time for a thorough editing to make sure your piece is up to snuff. While at it, edit as though your life depends on…no…your literary journey depends on it! Your words, sentences, and paragraphs should help your story gain some traction, thereby coalescing into one uniform whole.

It also doesn’t hurt to seek a second or even third opinion. An open-minded writer values the input of people they respect, and a positive critique could go a long way toward improving your short story. Besides, you could have missed something that an objective party might point out.

Do these steps sound simple enough? Well, your story is all within you. This simple guide is merely meant to nudge you in the right direction. It might also help to bookmark this post for future reference. After all, taking your story from good to great takes effort, no?

Kyle Baxter

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