As an editor, I don’t get to write many stories, but I sure love to read them. I have taken quite a few creative writing courses over the years and one word can sum up how to write a short story: RELAX.
First Step – Make an outline
One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to sit at the computer and try to write a tale from beginning to end. Rather than spend hours staring at the computer screen, humbled in frustration, make a simple quick outline. They’re easy to understand and you can even find templates for your word processor to help you organize your thoughts. Write out the plot and use that as a basis to make up the rest. It may be helpful to write out some of the more complicated scenes
Second Step – Develop your characters
- Who is your main character? Knowing a name and that she has blond wavy hair is not as important as fears, wants, and desires. Remember that the life you breathe into a character will not only carry the story, it also lets your readers know that you have a stake in what you have written.
- Listen to your character – Often times they will come alive in your mind and tell you who and where they want to go. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but give it a try. It actually works.
Third Step – Set the scene
Use enough detail in the introduction of your story so they know where they are. You want your reader to feel the environment and see it in their mind’s eye. While there may not be space for this in every short story, you still need to give them something. Maybe as simple as, Betty looked around her bedroom.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you creating your scene.
- Walk yourself through the scene. Be your character as they walk through it. What do they say, think, feel, and do?
- Know where things are. You want the area to be consistent so that your readers will know where they are at all times.
Step Four – Write the Story
This is the hard part, right? Not if you have done the things above. All you have to do fill in is what happens. Here are some simple tips to get the story flowing.
- If the story has a principal narrator, that character can start off by walking through the setting. They can relate everything to the reader in a kind of nonchalant, casual way.
- Write the parts of the story that you know. If you can’t begin the story, why not start in the middle?
- Get into some action quickly. Studies have shown that the attention span of the average audience is limited. They want quick action at the beginning. It is the most important thing if you want to keep your reader interested.
- Let the words flow as you write an early draft of a story. Type your heart out. Don’t go back and edit. Type what comes to mind and then read it. You may be surprised how much you like it.
I hope you enjoyed this little Ron’s Amazing Stories seminar. I plan to do more of these in the future. Also, if you ever need help with a story I am there to answer questions. If you are ready for a complete review I can do that as well. Head to http://editright4u.com.
This Week’s Podcast: On the podcast this week we have another edition of Ghost Stories with Sylvia. This time we talk about her very first encounter with the paranormal. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on Stitcher Radio or on the mobile version of Spotify. Do you prefer the radio? We are heard every Sunday Night at 8:00 PM (PST) on AMFM247.COM. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.
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