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This course is an introduction to the short story. Students will write stories and short descriptive sketches. Students will read great short stories and participate in class discussions of students' writing and the assigned stories in their historical and social contexts.
Experiment to see what voice sounds right for each character. If you have to clip out a particularly beautiful description, write it down and save it—you may be able to use in another story! If you think a scene might not be necessary to the plot, try crossing it out and reading through the scenes before and after it. If the story still flows well and makes sense, you can probably delete the scene. If you want to write a short story, first decide on the central conflict for your story, then create a main character who deals with that problem, and decide whether they will interact with anyone else.
Next, decide when and where your story will take place. Next, make a plot outline, with a climax and a resolution, and use that outline to create your first draft, telling the whole story without worrying about making it perfect. Read the short story out loud to yourself to help with proofreading and revision. Featured Articles Short Story Writing. Sample Short Literary Story. Sample Short Love Story.
Come up with a plot or scenario. Think about what the story is going to be about and what is going to happen in the story. Consider what you are trying to address or illustrate. Decide what your approach or angle on the story is going to be. You can also try a more complicated plot, like your main character wakes up in a parallel dimension or your main character discovers someone else's deep dark secret. Focus on a complicated main character.
Most short stories will focus on one to two main characters at the most. Think about a main character who has a clear desire, or want, but who is also full of contradictions.
Do not simply have a good character or a bad character. Give your main character interesting attributes and feelings so they feel complicated and well-rounded.
Create a central conflict for the main character. Every good short story will have a central conflict, where the main character has to deal with an issue or problem. Present a conflict for your main character early in your short story. Or perhaps your main character is trapped in a bad or dangerous situation and must figure out how to stay alive. Pick an interesting setting.
Another key element of a short story is the setting, or where the events of the story are taking place. You may stick to one central setting for the short story and add details of the setting to scenes with your characters. Choose a setting that is interesting to you, and that you can make interesting for your reader. Think about a particular theme. Many short stories center on a theme and explore it from the point of view of a narrator or main character. Plan an emotional climax. Every good short story has a shattering moment where the main character reaches an emotional high point.
The climax usually occurs in the last half of the story or close to the end of the story. At the climax of the story, the main character may feel overwhelmed, trapped, desperate, or even out of control. Or you may have an emotional climax where the main character, a young teenage girl, stands up for her brother against school bullies.
Think of an ending with a twist or surprise. Brainstorm an ending that will leave your reader surprised, shocked, or intrigued. Avoid obvious endings, where the reader can guess the ending before it happens. Give your reader a false sense of security, where they think they know how the story is going to end, and then redirect their attention to another character or an image that leaves them shocked.
Read examples of short stories. Learn what makes a short story successful and engaging for your reader by looking at examples by skilled writers.
Read short stories in several genres, from literary fiction to science fiction to fantasy. Notice how the writer uses character, theme, setting, and plot to great effect in their short story. Make a plot outline. Organize your short story into a plot outline with five parts: Use the outline as a reference guide as you write the story to ensure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Create an engaging opening. Introduce the main character and the setting to your reader in the first paragraph. Set your reader up for the key themes and ideas in the story. Instead, try an opening line like: Stick to one point of view. A short story is usually told in the first person point of view and stays with one point of view only.
This helps to give the short story a clear focus and perspective. You can also try writing the short story in third person point of view, though this may create distance between you and your reader.
Use dialogue to reveal character and further the plot. The dialogue in your short story should always be doing more than one thing at a time. Make sure the dialogue tells your reader something about the character who is speaking and adds to the overall plot of the story. Include dialogue tags that reveal character and give scenes more tension or conflict. Include sensory details about the setting. Think about how the setting feels, sounds, tastes, smells, and looks to your main character.
Describe your setting using the senses so it comes alive for your reader. End with a realization or revelation. The realization or revelation does not have to major or obvious.
It can be subtle, where your characters are beginning to change or see things differently. Read the short story out loud. Listen to how each sentence sounds, particularly the dialogue. Notice if the story flows well from paragraph to paragraph. Check for any awkward sentences or phrases and underline them so you can revise them later.
Notice if your story follows your plot outline and that there is a clear conflict for your main character. Designed for any author - from beginners to experts. Designed as a big writing group, every story gets several encouraging comments. We also have private forums for friends or focused critiques.
The best stories are featured, and some have won national contests. Experts encourage amateurs to improve - every author is welcome.
Totally free, and some with cash prizes.
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inklewriter keeps your branching story organised, so you can concentrate on what’s important – the writing. inklewriter is a free tool designed to allow anyone to write and publish interactive stories.
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