How to write a short story

If you have a lot of original ideas but are struggling to organize them, try using the method described here to build a short story.

Be careful, this isn’t the key to writing every conceivable story, but it should help you frame your central conflict, create a proactive character, and shape a satisfying ending.

And even if you stray from the path, you’ll at least have a foothold in creating a compelling story.

Define a problem for your short story:


It can be any kind of problem, from the craziest to the most mundane. If you have an empty day with your imagination, choose a real problem from your daily life.

The only downside to choosing something mundane is that you will have to work harder to make it meaningful.

Conversely, if you choose a daunting problem, you may have a hard time finding a solution.

Look for a significant problem that can be solved by one person in a scene. But whatever you choose, you will be able to make the method work.

Examples

  1. The purple nail polish is gone.
  2. Aliens banging on the windows.
  3. The garden is not pollinated.
  4. Create the character that has this problem
    Keep it simple.
  5. It’s a short story – you don’t have time to give her a middle name or describe her hairstyle, unless these things are relevant to the problem you created in
  6. step 1. Just provide some basics for defining a mood. . The rest can be developed later.

Examples

  1. A young man
  2. A grandmother
  3. A child with an ambiguous gender
  4. Describe why the problem is important to the character.
  5. The more the problem is important to the character, the more important it becomes to the reader.
  6. Find a solid reason why this character is worried. It is twice as important if your problem is trivial.
  7. Raise the stakes until they have an emotional impact.

What is at stake is what is at stake.

As in poker, it is about showing the reader what the character hopes to earn if he succeeds, while also pointing out what he will lose if he fails.

Examples

  1. The young man’s girlfriend bought him nail polish a year ago, but he never wore it. Now their relationship is in danger and to keep her he has to show how much he cares about her.
  2. A long time ago, Grandma’s younger brother disappeared after similar aliens knocked on windows at night. He tonight his young grandchildren are visiting …
  3. The child has a garden in which a rare medicinal herb grows. Unless the plants are quickly pollinated, half a dozen people will die, including the baby’s close friends.

When you’re done, review your descriptions to decide if your problem is still the same.

In the banal example of enamel, the added material highlighted the real problem of the story: he is about to lose his girlfriend.

So I’ll have to describe why this relationship is important to him. Other issues could also be redefined at this stage.

  1. Explain an obstacle that prevents him from solving the problem
    Think about how your character could solve his problem. So decide what’s stopping him from getting there. What will he face during the story?

If you want to develop a story centered around your protagonist, this is where you will cover your character arc: make their obstacle a personal weakness.

The character arc: We will return with a full article on the subject, but in a nutshell the idea is that the character does

Not face only an external obstacle (related to the environment or an opponent) but an internal obstacle (related to his psychology or a trait of his character).

An arc of characters within the story helps develop the reader’s empathy for it.

Examples

  1. The young man is focusing too much on this nail polish thing because he is a perfectionist (internal obstacle).
  2. He focuses his attention on the details, which prevents him from seeing the whole picture of him.
  3. This often puts him in step with his girlfriend’s expectations, who suddenly thinks she isn’t paying attention to her.
  4. Aliens are immune to normal weapons (external obstacle), and Grandma cannot ask for help because regularly bumping into windows creates an interference field, disturbing electronic devices (external obstacle). ).
  5. Any pollinator introduced is immediately eaten by the bats (external obstacle). The child hates bats (internal obstacle), but no one was able to catch or kill them.
  6. Say one to three attempts

To solve this problem


I say “attempt” because your character has to fail and then face the consequences of those failures. This will add tension and suspense to your story.

Perhaps the hero will devote his time to unsuccessful measures or cause even greater harm. After each attempt, he must find himself in a more precarious position than the previous one.

Example

  1. To give himself time to find the nail polish, the young man tells his girlfriend that he will be late. She gets angry, telling him that if he really cares about her, he will be there in time.
  2. He finds Varnish and runs to meet her, but then he realizes that he doesn’t have flowers.
  3. While he is buying something, she calls him to ask where he is, explaining that it is embarrassing enough to sit at the table alone for half an hour. He goes to the restaurant, but only sees her leaving.
  4. He runs after her. His girlfriend told him that all she wanted to do was go to dinner with him.
  5. Granny tries to lock the windows to prevent the aliens from entering, but their bodies pass through the cracks and they enter the house.
  6. She then grabs a kitchen knife and tries to stab them, but they evaporate and regroup themselves as they head to the bedroom where the kids are sleeping. Huh.
  7. The baby has only four days to pollinate the plants, otherwise the time taken for them to grow may be too long to save lives.
  8. The first night he brings butterflies, but the bats eat them.
  9. The second night he tries to bees, but the bats eat them too.
  10. On the third night he lures the birds, and there, they are eaten again. Whenever a child curses a bat, his mother reminds him that bats have a reason too.

But there is hope! Take a small step towards a solution with each failed attempt. This can be a hint, tool, or tip that will help your character.

That doesn’t mean he’ll understand it right away. In fact, it’s even better if he doesn’t!

Make a turning point:


The pieces of the puzzle come together in the hero’s mind. This can take a variety of forms: a dizzying awareness, a brilliant idea, or just a little bit of enlightenment.

This gives him the first chance to solve the problem.

Example

  1. He learns that all his attempts to please his girlfriend eventually made him unhappy. He apologizes to her.
  2. He learns that weapons designed to interact with solid matter don’t work on aliens.
  3. So if he has to defeat them, he’ll need weapons designed for things that… aren’t strong.
  4. Even though the child hates bats, he reluctantly decides to study them more closely. As a result, he learns that many bats are pollinators.

If you’re planning a tragic ending, the protagonist’s awareness may be inaccurate or incomplete. Perhaps he will continue to pursue the wrong solution to his problem.

Nonetheless, at this point in history, your audience should realize that success is possible.

Show What Happens Next:


You have brought your character to a turning point. Now he must make a choice that will determine his success, and you will tell the result. Whatever happens, its position must change.

Example

  1. Since all the good restaurants are now booked for the evening, he asks if they can go out the next night, saying that their date is too special for fast food. She sighs and tells him it is over… then she walks away, ignoring his apology.
  2. As the aliens approach their grandchildren, Grandma grabs the vacuum cleaner, turns it on, and takes aim at them. They then vaporize and get sucked into the equipment.
  3. The child devises a way to attract pollinating bats to the garden. These bats come on the fourth night, and are not eaten!

Go so far as to tell your story that your audience knows what’s coming next. Young man will cry over his lost relationship.

Grandma will have a vacuum cleaner full of aliens. The child will take care of the plants and make the medicine. Details may vary, but the direction is clear.

I said there are seven steps, but I didn’t say they were easy. Solving them requires many creative problems. Luckily for us, creating stories is a skill like any other – with practice, you’ll get better.

This 7-step method will get you s. allows to clean

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