If you thought novels were most difficult to write because of the expectations on the number of words required to publish them, you haven’t explored short stories!
Short stories are even more challenging because they require perfection. The tiniest of mistakes in your short story could be blown out of proportion and crucified by critics.
Even if one of your side characters falls flat in a short story, that’s enough to annoy a reader and for a (genuine) literary magazine editor to throw your script away.
A writer has a great deal to accomplish in a short story — details, setting, conflict, plot, character development — in a very small space (usually between 2000 – 5000 words) and that requires concision and revision.
So what catches the eyes of a literary agent or a publisher or what does it take for readers to love your stories?
Short stories are the fastest way to show your storytelling skills to the world.
The first step would be to begin with a splendid idea. Let real life inspire you. Look around yourself to draw inspiration. Your spouse or your parent. Your maid or your boss. Talk to people. Get to know their stories and weave them together into your own words. Create your version of a known story. Read the newspaper and you’ll find the weirdest of stories waiting to be written and re-written there. Start with what you know. Read a lot of short stories. That is the best way you can teach yourself into crafting better short-form fiction.
Short stories are the perfect workout for all writers. They keep your writing reflexes vigilant and are an established way to build your reputation as an author.
Know that your story has the potential if you can distill it into a single sentence.
Example: Two estranged lovers meet up after a decade on one stormy night, unaware that a common friend made the meet happen, and the encounter gives them each reasons to go on.
The trick is to create that perfectly outlined plot, a protagonist that has sharp-edged traits, the intensity of the conflict you hurl at your protagonist and the charm with which you play the knight in shining armor! Most importantly – SHOW, don’t tell! (Cliched, we know! But let’s trust generations of writers on this one!)
Once you’re done crafting that story, you’re not done yet!
- READ IT ALOUD to yourself! That’s the best way to proofread your work. You don’t really want to be rejected for a silly grammatical error. Edit, edit, edit! Perfect your story – examine it for spelling, grammar, elimination of clichés, redundancies, punctuation, sentence construction, word choice and structure.
- Make your title woo your readers.
- Publish it – Wherever you get the chance to!
Writing contests are great because the winners usually get published in either a magazine or online – which means instant visibility for your name and credibility for your next short story! One such amazing opportunity is coming up soon! Watch out this space for our short story contest – PenFlueza! Coming soon.
Till then… Happy WriteFluencing!