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How To Write A Short Story
- Nothing can help you “learn” how to write a good short story better than reading good short stories. Take note of the style and how they have used the small amount of words to their advantage. Choose authors that you enjoy, and also choose some of the “classics.” Pay attention to how the authors develop their characters, write dialogue, and structure their plots.
- 2learn how to brainstorm.
- 4Know your characters. For a story to be believable, the characters have to be believable, and their actions should appear inevitable given who they are. In other words, you should know as much as possible about your characters, from what their central motivations are to what their favorite foods are. You won’t include all this information in your story, but the more you know, the more your characters will come to life, both for you and for the reader. Sometimes it helps just to listen to unimportant conversations between characters in your head, even if it won't be in the story. If you find it easier, write a list, titled with the character's name, and write all the attributes you can think of, from their position in the orchestra to their favourite colour. Write it all. This also means you need to do research: if you decide that your main character is going to be a rural farmer's daughter from Nebraska, you'll need to know about what life is like for people from that background.
- Know your setting. A good storyteller may need to know about history, geography or social science in order to make the world of his story consistent and true-to-life. Look online for background information relevant to your setting. This is especially important if you are setting your story against a historical background or in a foreign country.
- Limit the breadth of your story. A novel can occur over millions of years and include a multitude of subplots, a variety of locations, and an army of supporting characters. The main events of a short story should occur in a relatively short period of time (days or even minutes), and you typically won’t be able to develop effectively more than one plot, two or three main characters, and one setting. If your story has much more breadth, it probably needs to be a novella or novel. It is possible - just - for there to be a gap of several years within a short story - but a short story shouldn't attempt to be a complete biography of a character.
- Decide who will tell the story. There are three main points of view from which to tell a story: first-person (“I”), second-person (“you”), and third-person (“he” or “she”). In a first-person story, a character in the story tells the story; in the second-person the reader is made a character in the story; and in the third-person, an outside narrator tells the story. (Second-person narration is rarely used.) Keep in mind that first-person narrators can only tell what they know (which will be limited to what they see firsthand or are told by others), while third-person narrators can either know everything and explore every character’s thoughts, or be limited to only that which can be observed. If you are an external narrator, develop a consistent stance towards your characters: do you approve or disapprove of how they behave? Show this through your tone. If you are a first person narrator, try to make your language and tone consistent with your character's age, personality and background.
- Be consistent Don't begin in the third person and switch to first person narration; don't begin in realistic soap opera style and turn your story into a fairy tale or fantasy half way through. Don't start by setting the story on a chilly morning in December in Scotland and then have your characters suddenly deciding to go sunbathing and sip pineapple juice under a coconut tree.
- Revise and edit. When you’ve finished the story, go back through it and correct mechanical mistakes, as well as logical and semantic errors. In general, make sure the story flows and the characters and their problems are introduced and resolved appropriately. If you have time, put the completed story down for a few days or weeks before editing. Distancing yourself from the story in this way will help you see it more clearly when you pick it back up.
- Get some second opinions. Send your revised and edited story off to a trusted friend or relative for revisions, edits, and suggestions. Let your reviewers know that you want to hear their real opinions of the story. Give them time to read it and think about it, and give them a copy that they can write on. Make sure you consider everything that your reviewers tell you—not just the parts you would like to hear. Thank your reviewers for reading your story, and don’t argue with them.
- Incorporate whatever edits, revisions, and suggestions you feel are valid. Your writing will be better if you can carefully consider constructive criticism, but you don’t have to follow all the advice you get. Some of the suggestions may not be very good. It’s your story, and you need to make the final call.
Freely adapted from http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Short-Story
More links: Short Stories: Ten Tips
Show, Don't Tell
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