Penning a short story

Writing a short story is very different to writing a novel. It’s something that I haven’t tried a lot of because my focus has always been on longer pieces of writing but I enjoyed writing Dancing in the Fire. A short story allows you to get straight into the story – there is no space for heavy backstory, you need a concise plot and in that respect, I think you have more fun with a shorter story. All rules go out of the window!

dancing in the fire2

A short story needs characters that are immediately recognisable i.e. the reader instantly gets to know them and wants to root for them, and you want to throw them straight into a situation. It helps therefore to limit your cast of characters to give yourself time to fully develop them in a short space of time. Dancing in the Fire, for example, focuses for the most part on two main characters – Sam and Becks.

As you only have a few pages to tell your story, you need to think about a setting and a timeframe that will work. You need a setting that you can describe quickly so readers know where they are. That’s why a lot of writers set short stories in the same world as their novels – the readers already know where they are so they don’t have to be as descriptive. And you obviously can’t show a character’s whole life in a short story, you just want to focus on a time where things happen. That’s why most of the action in Dancing in the Fire takes place over two days in a cabin in the woods. It’s a contemporary setting that can be described easily and allows the characters to be trapped in a small space in a small timeframe to make sure sparks will fly.

Generally, a short story needs to have a fixed beginning, middle and an end. You want the reader to quickly get into the story and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end. However, because you are writing something so different to a novel don’t be afraid to break the rules and play around with structure and expectations. I included flashbacks in my short story, for example, to give readers a background to the main characters so they could really root for their relationship, or you may decide to end the story with a twist – maybe the whole story was a dream!

Because you have less words to play with in a short story, you need to really make them count. I think writing a short story provides great writing practice, you can really sharpen your story-telling skills and you may even come up with an idea that you want to develop into a novel at a later date. There are also a lot of short story competitions that you can enter and get your writing noticed by the industry.

Do you enjoy writing short stories?

Victoria

xoxo

Good news! You can now pre-order DANCING IN THE FIRE on Amazon.com so my lovely US followers can read it yay! Click HERE to pre-order for $1.48!

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2 thoughts on “Penning a short story

  1. I have trouble with short stories — always have. They kept getting out of control and turning into novels. Then I started writing mystery stories, and that I could do. Genre restrictions make it a lot easier to be concise. When you’re writing a mystery story, if the mystery is solved then you’re done.

    Of course, when I started to write a series of mystery stories, the stories started sending out feelers to each other and connecting up so that the book is kind of a novel anyway.

    See, I have trouble with short stories… 🙂

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