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How to write a great short story

Wish to write a short story and don’t know how or where to start? These easy tips will get you started.

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Think of ideas

You plan to write a short story, but what’ll you write about? Observe people and situations around you. It’s in the little day-to-day things or news items that an awesome idea can suddenly strike you. Also, always jot down your ideas either on a notepad or your  smartphone.


So, you got an idea, now what? Well, think of the characters which will be part of your story—from the protagonist to the person standing in the background. Make a list of everyone in your story and then begin giving names to these people. Naming characters is a vital stage in the process. If you can’t think of names or are confused or want unique names, the best way to find names are baby name websites or books.

Number of words

This really depends on how ‘short’ you want your story to be. The story can be as short as 200 words and it can go on to maybe 1,500 words. It really depends on your imagination and how far you’re willing to stretch it. Just make sure that if your story exceeds 1,000 words that you aren’t stretching it just for the heck of it.

First person or third person

Decide whether your story will be in the first person or in the third person in advance. It makes a huge difference not only on the writing style but on the overall impact of the story on the reader. Most people prefer to write in the third person as this gives them an opportunity to play around with all major characters instead of focusing the story on just one character.

Build up

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. To establish a great build up, it’s essential to have an engaging start. Remember, always begin your story in such a manner that the reader would want to know what’ll happen next or what led to the current scenario. Build ups can be made more effective by including sudden twists and turns in the plot or engaging dialogues between the main characters.

Climax or anti-climax

After a great start and middle, the climax is the reason why your short story will be talked about by readers. There are different types of endings to choose from. Some are happy ending, the cliff hanger, tragic ending, major twist ending, alternative ending and an open end. The type of ending you chose depends on the genre of your short story. For example, you can’t have a tragic end in a thriller or a major twist in a romantic story. Make the climax as nail biting as possible. It should be laced with drama, thrill or an epic showdown.

Read, read and read

When you finish writing your short story, the first thing you must do is read your write up. You’re your best judge. Ask yourself why did a certain character react in this way? Could they’ve had a different reaction? If so, how would it impact the flow of your story? Many a times, re-reading your content helps with rectifying many errors in the storyline.

Editing and getting it checked

Yes, you love your baby. You’ve given it your blood, sweat and tears. However, if you wish to get it published, it’s necessary that a professional editor have a look at it, especially, if it’s a collection of short stories. Others often see writing mistakes that we can’t see.

Special mention: Writers block?

This happens to the best of us. You begin with a bang, have a great story idea and then all of a sudden you’re distracted. Your mood or anything silly jolts you out of your writer mode, and it gets very difficult to continue with the process. What can be done here is take an actual break from writing. Maybe the break will help you get introduced to new ideas. Else, try relaxation methods like meditation to help relax your distracted mind. The best way to complete the writing task is by reminding yourself why you decided to write this short story in the first place. This always works.

So, what’re you budding Shakespeares waiting for? Follow these tips and write that amazing short story!

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