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Beginners’ Guide to Short Story Writing

I grew up with a love for short stories, but I never thought I’d be writing them. Looking at writings by Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson, one can be easily intimidated and overwhelmed. However, short stories can be incredibly fun to write. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Find the Drive

I think an excellent starting point for writing a short story is to find the drive. What that means is decide what’s going to drive your story. Will it be character driven or plot driven? Will the setting drive the story? Once you choose the driving force of the story, you can begin a sketch.

The Sketch

If your story is character-driven, start with a character sketch. A character sketch is an outline of the details of that character. Their age, weight, height, facial features, the era they’re born in, where they’re from, etc.; if it’s plot driven work out the details of the plot. The sketch is important because it makes the story real. You can easily write about someone, someplace, or something you know.

Write

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. Hopefully, these first two steps have gotten your creative juices flowing and you’re ready to write. However, this is not the time to correct mistakes or overthink it. Simply write whatever comes to mind. Write until you feel the story is over. Your writing will naturally take on a beginning, middle, and end.

Revise

Once you’ve written the story all the way through, it is now time to edit it. Here is where you can correct mistakes and analyze your word choices and flow. Read the story out loud. If you stumble over certain phrases, chances are your readers will too and that affects the flow of your story. Try rewriting these phrases until they roll off the tongue. Always keep in mind the tone you want your story to have and replace words that take away from that tone.

So, take a deep breath and write your story. I’m sure it will turn out great!

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