A short story is – well, short. And many new writers believe that short stories are easy to craft. They’re not easy to write, mainly because it’s difficult for new writers especially to condense their thoughts into such few words. The good thing about short stories is they’re short. They’re a great way to practice getting your ideas down on paper and there are all sorts of contests you can send them into. If you like writing to prompts, many competitions ask for stories based on their specific prompts. Click here for a list of short story competitions.
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How Long is a Short Story?
Most short story competitions ask for submissions to be somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Less than 500 words is considered flash fiction and is, arguably, even more difficult to write well.
How to Write a Killer Short Story
- You’ll want to begin with a fantastic and unique idea, of course. You want to tell a story, not give a lot of information. Once you have that, follow these guidelines:
- Do not lead up to your story. Jump into it almost toward the end
- Like a novel, it must start with a pop – a hook that captures the reader immediately
- Let the story unfold through description, dialogue and action
- Action is important, or the reader is left wondering what is going on
- Readers like to root for the main character (sometimes the villain) but usually the main character – so make that person appealing
- With such a short amount of time, every sentence must count towards revealing something about the character or advancing the action of the story
- When horrible things happen to your characters – that’s good. The worse – the better for your story. It helps to build character for your character
- Unless you have a twist at the end (which is always good) let the reader know what is going on – you just don’t have enough time to play coy
- Make the ending satisfying
Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?