How to Write Short Stories: 10 Key Tips for Writers

Learning how to write short stories may seem simple.

But nothing could be further from the truth since you have to consider, first of all, the limitations of this genre. You must condense a great story in a specific number of pages without leaving anything out and forgetting the structure: presentation-knot-denouement.

What is considered to be a short story?

A short story is a text that falls within the narrative genre. Its brevity and conciseness characterize it. In a minimal space, it must present the subject matter and its characters and resolve the plot until reaching an outcome (or a conclusion, since several stories may deal with the same story, just as several novels make up a saga).

Along with brevity and conciseness, the short story is characterized by an “economization” of elements. In the short story, there is no room for frills or breaks. Given the brevity of this type of text, everything has to go at an intense pace. Tension is constantly generated in the reader until reaching the conclusion that will mean one of the few moments of “relaxation” in the reading.

As for the short story that narrates, it must also be considered that the short story could be more friendly to subplots. That is to say, we are presented with a single plot centered on the protagonists, and, at most, we will be offered a small context to let the reader know how the story has reached this point in the plot.

Finally, those who want to know how to write a short story should consider the figure of the narrator. It is essential to choose how the events presented will be narrated: whether he is a protagonist or will be presented through dialogues.

How to write a short story?

1. Choose the type of short story.

A wide variety of subgenres within the short story and contests are dedicated to them -from humor to eroticism, there is a wide range. Although you can try your luck with all of them, we recommend you choose the one that best suits your style as an author and go for it.

At the same time, you can review the winning stories of other editions of these contests and take note of possible common elements that you can apply to your creation.

2. Think about the theme of the micro-story you want to write about.

The first step is choosing the subgenre you will write the short story about. After that, you will have to decide the theme: what is the plot going to be, what is it going to be about, who will be the main characters, and what is their motivation? In this way, we could find a detective story with a dose of humor or go for a romantic plot with terrifying elements.

3. How to plan the structure of the short story.

Do you know what a literary storyboard is? If you still need to, you should start to discover it because this tool lets you plan your short story’s structure. It’s always better to come up with an outline than to go crazy, which has excellent results later on. We are not telling you to have everything tied up from the beginning, but we are telling you to clarify the beginning, the first point of the plot, and how the end will be.

Thanks to this structure, you will first avoid digressions and the creation of parallel lines that take you away from the central theme. Remember that one of the essences of the short story is its concreteness. Don’t beat around the bush, and plan every step you take.

4. Think about what will engage your readers.

How easy it would be to have the recipe for success! Knowing what hooks readers, although this is only achieved after some time, applying techniques to attract their attention is possible. The first and simplest is offering an enigma for them to consider. What will be hidden behind it? It doesn’t have to be a murder. It can be many other plot points, such as an impossible romance or an unexpected journey to uncover a mystery.

Another good idea is to evoke the context in which your short story takes place. Describing the scene will make it easier for the reader to become immersed in the story. Long live synesthesia!

5. Time to write and put it down on “paper”.

The most challenging part of the short story genre is writing it since this means adapting to a smaller space. To do this, you must be precise. Every word is essential and must be as accurate as possible. Avoid extravagances and be concrete. But do not overdo it and end up with a story with no head or tail.

Having a structure and script to follow will help you know how much you will invest in each part and how you will do it.

6. Think of an unforgettable ending for your short story.

The ending is the farewell letter. It is what remains (besides the plot). But an unforgettable ending is essential, especially after the tension generated by a short story where, briefly, an intense tale is lived. Do you know that there are authors who even begin with this part?

A good technique is that, once you have decided on the plot, bet on a shocking ending and then develop the whole story from this point by imagining the various events that have happened until the conclusion is reached.

7. Check and validate what you have written.

Never send your short story as it comes out. Check that everything is 100% understood, especially that there are no spelling mistakes, typos, or failures of understanding. To check grammar, you can use a variety of resources that are used as well to help writing papers for college, or you can use the services of professional editors.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they are the most significant source of growth and experience. Let yourself and your imagination go, then shape it into a super exciting story. We’re sure you’ll succeed.