4 Actionable Steps to Writing a Short Story
Writing a short story differs from writing fiction in multiple ways. There is a confined space to develop the characters, no room for lengthy dialogues, and a greater emphasis on twist or epiphany. At the same time, short stories have greater capabilities to captivate and profoundly move readers.
If you are a naïve writer, luckily, a short story is an excellent medium for you! Are you struggling with how to develop a short story? If yes, then this guide is for you. Before you start looking for the right platform to ‘publish my book,’ here are some tips to publish a short story.
Identify the key emotion
The key emotion in your story will be the prime feeling or impression you want to give to your readers once they read it. However, devising the key emotion is more complicated than simply choosing an adjective like happy, sad, angry, etc. Rather, just decide the kind of story you want to tell and how to weave it into words.
Kick off with a hook
Once you have decided the prime emotion, it is time to ensure how you want your story to unfold. Whether you are writing fiction, poem or autobiography, writing opening lines are never easy. A catchy opening is the first step to publish a short stories book. The same is true for any individual short story. You may want to strike the right tone, introduce the characters, and make it compelling to catch reader’s attention – all at once as you don’t have much space. One highly effective method for starting a short story is to start with an opening hook – a sentence that immediately intrigues the reader. For instance, the opening lines of classic story Rip Van Winkle are:
“WHOEVER has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskill Mountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the good wives, far and near, as perfect barometers.”
Marvelous opening lines!
Develop the story
Once you have completed the above steps, build your story. As you have to unfold the story in finite amount of words, each word should be appropriate, and every sentence should be proportional. Read back every sentence to ensure that either it is pushing the story forward or contributing towards a significant backstory, mood or key emotion. For example, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry:
“Della finished her crying and cleaned the marks of it from her face. She stood by the window and looked out with no interest. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a gift. She had put aside as much as she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week is not much. Everything had cost more than she had expected. It always happened like that.”
Write a convincing and compelling ending
Nothing can disappoint a reader more than a poor ending. If you have no idea how to end your story, go back and review every scene. Then ask yourself – how your reader would want this story to end? Kate Chopin concludes his story Désirée’s Baby by revealing that it is Armand himself who is not entirely of white descent. With this, the author highlights that people are ultimately the same and we have no right to treat another person as less human.
Now that you have successfully finished your story, read it again to edit. Correct the inconsistencies in the plot if you find any. All the best!