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How to Write a Short Story

Updated Jan 1, 2021

How to write a great short story

There is no single formula for writing a great short story, but certain elements are often key. First, a great short story is engaging and well-written, with a plot that is both compelling and unpredictable. It should also be concise, with a clear structure that doesn't meander or ramble. Finally, a great short story typically features strong, memorable characters that the reader can invest in.

How long is a short story?

A short story is typically considered to be a work of fiction that is less than 7,500 words in length.

How do you write a short story outline?

There is no one formula for writing a short story outline, as the approach you take will vary depending on the story you want to tell. However, some tips on how to write a short story outline include starting with a strong idea, planning the plot, developing the characters, and outlining the ending. It's also important to make sure that the story is well-paced, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  1. Start with a great idea.

The best short stories often start with a great idea, one that is both compelling and unexpected. If you can find a fresh, interesting angle to explore, you're already on your way to writing a great story.

  1. Write engaging, well-crafted prose.

A great short story is not just well-plotted, it's also well-written. The prose should be engaging and fluid, with a strong sense of rhythm and style.

  1. Keep it concise.

A great short story is not a long story padded out to meet the required length. It should be tightly plotted and concise, with every word serving a purpose.

  1. Create strong, memorable characters.

The best short stories are populated with strong, memorable characters that the reader can invest in. These characters should be believable and three-dimensional, with real motivations and flaws.

How to start a short story

One possible way to start a short story is with a character who is experiencing a dilemma. For example, the character might be stuck in a difficult situation and is trying to find a way out.

How to write a short story in an hour

  1. Start with a scene that introduces your characters and setting.

  2. Establish the conflict or problem your characters are facing.

  3. Reveal clues about the story's ending.

  4. Develop your characters and their relationships.

  5. Resolve the conflict in a satisfying way.

What are some short story prompts?

  1. A character is stranded on a deserted island.
  2. A character has a near-death experience.
  3. A character is given a choice between two difficult tasks.
  4. A character is faced with a moral dilemma.
  5. A character is dealing with a personal crisis.

What are the different short story genres?

Science fiction, horror, mystery, and romance are all common short story genres.

  1. Science fiction: a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.

  2. Horror: a genre of fiction that aims to frighten or disgust its readers.

  3. Mystery: a genre of fiction in which a crime or an unexpected event is investigated or solved.

  4. Romance: a genre of fiction that typically deals with the relationships between romantic partners.

What makes a short story good?

What makes a short story good is subjective. However, some elements that might make a short story good include well-developed characters, a compelling plot, and richly descriptive language. You must read lots of short stories to find what makes them good to you.

If you want help ideating on your story, try our short story generator free!

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