How to Write a Short Story

I came across a video titled How to Write a Short Story, on YouTube from NY Times Bestselling author and biographer, Jerry B. Jenkins. In less than ten minutes, he sold me on why mastering writing short stories before writing your first novel is important. I don’t own a single collection of short stories. Me being a book nerd, I immediately searched for his short story recommendations. He listed several but I only chose a few to read.  

He named the usual ones everyone talks about, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and some names I was not familiar with. If you plan on being a successful and published author, I suggest you check out his recommendations and start a collection of your own.

The difference with short stories is that you don’t have a lot of time to waste with your readers. Which is often where most writers struggle. You have to get to the point quickly. There’s no room for rambling conversations or writing scenes just for fun. A short story- the ones that work anyway- are to the point, concise, and thrilling to read in some way.

There are innumerable resources available on how to write a short story. Before you pen that novel, I would tackle a short story first. And if you finish it, it will give you the confidence to write the first draft of your novel which you will need- to finish it. But remember, just because it is a short story does not mean it needs no editing. Everything you write- requires editing! Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Have a good story idea.  
  2. Make it as original as you can.
  3. Outline the beginning, middle, and end in a sentence or two.
  4. Keep your characters to a minimum and give them distinction.
  5. Make sure everything you write is moving towards the ending.
  6. Don’t be too predictable but give the readers an ending that makes sense.
  7. Write, finish, edit, then rewrite.

Side note: I beta read for someone who thought it would be cute to change a main character’s name at the end of the story to say the two lovebirds escaped and lived happily ever after. Don’t do that. It makes no sense and will annoy your readers- or at least this one.

Have a great writing day.

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