9 Secrets You Should Know To Write Great Short Stories

Writing a short story is a great way to learn the craft. 

There is a shorter amount of time invested so that a writer can quickly find out what does and does not work for their readers.

Any good writer knows that it’s all about the readers.

A short story will help you learn style and help you connect with the people who enjoy the genre for which you publish.

Here are just a few tips to help you write a great short story.

Keep It Simple

A short story must get the story told in a limited amount of time.

Since short stories are meant to be consumed in one sitting, you cannot have a long timeline involved.

You should set up your short story so that it has closure.

The best way to accomplish this is to pick a very limited time frame in your character’s life.

That can be a day or a week as long as it is limited in scope.

It should also only cover one change that the character will go through for the sake of brevity.

Limit Characters

You do not have enough time to fully introduce multiple characters.

You should focus on one main character and write from their point of view.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have other characters, but the secondary characters should only serve to move the story along.

Don’t spend your focus on fleshing out multiple characters because you will find yourself writing too much and detracting from the story you are trying to show.

Start With The Extraordinary

Start with an ordinary day in which something extraordinary happens in the life of your character.

This will intrigue your reader and keep them reading the next page. 

Think of this as your hook.  Hook your reader early especially if you can do it in the first sentence.

Your opening paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the story, and so special care must be taken to keep your reader turning the pages.

Miracles happen every day

Get To The Point

Short Stories don’t give you the time to do a lot of character building or worldbuilding if they hope to remain short.

You will have to learn to create mood and setting quickly and concisely without dragging out the descriptions.

You should be able to get to the point of your story shortly after the hook.

Describe what problem or event has set your character moving in the direction of resolution.

Show Don’t Tell

To avoid boring your readers, you will need to learn the art of show don’t tell in your short story.

Instead of using facts to progress your story, you should describe the scene in a way that makes the reader understand through their own experience.

Readers can then become more invested in the story because they feel and understand what is happening in the character’s life at that moment in time.

Instead of writing, “It was hot”; describe how the sun beat down on the back of the neck causing beads of sweat to form on her forehead. 

Readers have experienced this event, so they understand how hot that was without you saying, “It was hot.”

Write What You Know

Emotions are difficult to write if you have not experienced them.

A person who has always been the outgoing sort will have a hard time accurately describing the feelings that a shy person lives with every day.

Write emotions in a way that makes it obvious you understand how they feel, and your readers will know that you have experienced them.

Experience of emotion will allow you to use concise language instead of a wordy mess because you don’t understand the feeling.

Emotions are hard to write when you have not experienced them.

Write A Satisfying Ending

Don’t leave your reader hanging.

If your character has a problem to solve, they must solve it before the story ends.

In a short story, the idea is that something about your character changes.  Whether a mood or belief is involved, you must find a way to resolve it.

In a short story, it doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it does have to be an ending.

The reader needs to understand that the story is complete, and the character has learned something from the experience.

Write A Catchy Title

Some writers start with a title and work their story around it.

It is often best practice to use a placeholder title to start and then when you finish your story, add some flair to the title.

You have written the story, so now you can come up with something catchy to attract the reader to your work.

The title is the first thing the reader sees when picking out a book or short story, so it must grab the readers attention and make them want to open the book and start reading so that you can hook them in the first sentence.

Have Fun

Writing is a process, and if you are having fun doing it, you will become a much better author.

When writing becomes something you dread, you will not do a good job of it and readers will know that instantly.

Make every project something you have fun doing and something you look forward to every day.

This will be evident in every word you use and every character you create.

So go out and have some fun!

Turn your short story into a success story!