Note: These tips are also appropriate for book writing.
Have you ever wanted to write a story, something good, but when you sat in front of that white page your brain just shut down?
What am I supposed to write?!?!? You probably thought.
You probably wracked your brain and if you were lucky, maybe you actually thought of something to write. But not everyone is so lucky. Let’s start with the basics of how to create a short story.
1. Audience- first you have to think about your audience. What age group do you want your story to be most appropriate for? Young children? Slightly older children? Tweens? Teens? Maybe even adults? (Although it is preferable to write to people who are around your age or younger. But you can try!) Most people like reading stories who have characters around their age as well. (Although I also love to read well written books intended for a much younger audience 😉 they are just so cute!)
Think about the people reading the story and what they want to read about. Of course don’t stop yourself from having fun in the process!
2. Genre- what type of story would you like to write? What type of story are you good at writing? Find a type of writing style that you feel most comfortable with, be it fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, mystery, fantasy or poetry. (Although we are talking about short stories over here, these tips may help for poetry writing as well.) At the very beginning stick to that style of writing. Once you feel comfortable with it you can expand to other genres as well. Don’t be scared! (I feel most comfortable with writing fiction. One day I decided that I needed to branch out a bit and I wrote a poem. It was actually quite fun and it let to me writing another, and another! Of course I still much prefer writing fiction but I have definitely broadened my writing style horizons! Next up- non- fiction! Let’s see if I even come around to it…)
3. Ok, so now we know who our intended audience is and what style of writing we are using. But now what? What should I write? What should the plot be? Patience my dear!
I hate to tell you, but I can’t tell you what to write or what the plot of your story will be. That will have to come from you. But what I can do is help you out with how to get ideas on making plots.
First of all- what is a plot? A plot is the main idea, the “stomach” of the story. Without a plot you can’t have a proper story. (A story without a plot might go something like this- There once was a girl. And she walked. And she saw a butterfly. She ate. She drank. And she had a good time. The end! Isn’t that just like so captivating? I’m crying from suspense!) You have to have a main idea to your story. Something has to happen that unusual, surprising, suspenseful, scary, strange or emotional. We have to let the audience feel something, have some emotion. Without that the story will be dry and boring. Exactly like the story of the girl who ate and drank and saw a butterfly!
4. Now we know what a plot is, how do we think one up? I’ll tell you a secret- you’ve got to use your imagination. (For fiction writing that is. This section mainly refers to fiction writing so if you don’t write fiction you can skip over this.) Everyone has an imagination. Yes, it might be buried somewhere under your bed, but you just have to dig it out! I find basing fiction on real life situations helps a lot. Think of something that you saw or heard, or an unusual conversation and build your story around it. Remember- some parts of your story will probably be similar to or based on other books or stories that you have read in the past- usually without you even knowing it. This is ok (all ideas come from somewhere!) but try not to copy large plots or ideas from other books. The world wants to read new stuff and we want your special and original idea!
5. Characters- this is a fun one! Before you start writing, think of your characters. Your ideas can get creative, imaginative and down-right zany! Remember to use a lot of details while describing your characters so your audience can really get a feel for them and picture them in their heads. Remember also to be systematic with your characters. For example- if you have an old man who usually sits in an easy chair- don’t have him suddenly jump up or run away. If you have someone who is an angry person- make sure to keep him that way throughout the story. (Other than if you want the whole point of the story to be that he becomes happy in the end…)
6. How to build your story- now you’ve got a plot line, you’ve got your characters and you know what is going to happen in the story. You have to build your story properly so that it will be easy to read and make sense. (Most people do this already automatically). Write a rough draft of your story and make a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning give the reader a feel for the story, describe a lot. Your middle is usually the plot. Have a lot conversations going on (if it’s that sort of story), but don’t make it too confusing for the reader. And the conclusion should preferably have some sort of twist in it that the readers wouldn’t have thought of to make it interesting.
I hope these tips help you to build a better story!
Good luck and happy writing!