Writing > Creative

Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers (Kennedy and Jerz)

What is a Short Story?

A short story begins as close to the conclusion as possible, and grabs the reader from the very first line. It conserves character and scenes, typically focuses on just one problem, and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation. (Kathy Kennedy and Dennis G. Jerz)

  1. Get Started: Emergency Tips
  2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph
  3. Develop Your Characters
  4. Choose a Point of View
  5. Write Meaningful Dialogue
  6. Use Setting and Context
  7. Set up the Plot
  8. Create Conflict and Tension
  9. Build to a Crisis or a Climax
  10. Deliver a Resolution

1. Get Started: Emergency Tips

Is your short story due tomorrow morning? Here are a few emergency tips. Good luck!

  1. Who is your protagonist, and what does he or she want?
    (The athlete who wants her team to win the big game and the car crash victim who wants to survive his injuries are not specific enough.)

  2. When the story begins, what morally significant actions has he or she already taken towards that goal?
    ("Morally significant" doesn't mean your protagonist has to be conventionally "good"; rather, he or she should already have made a significant choice that sets up the rest of the story.)

  3. What unexpected consequences -- directly related to the protagonist's efforts to achieve the goal -- ramp up the emotional energy of the story?
    (Will the unexpected consequences force your protagonist to make yet another choice, leading to still more consequences?)

  4. What details from the setting, dialog, and tone help you tell the story?
    (Things to cut: travel scenes, character A telling character B about something we just saw happening to character A, and phrases like "said happily" -- it's much better to say "bubbled" or "gushed" or "cooed.")

  5. What morally significant choice does your protagonist make at the climax of the story?
    (Your reader should care about the protagonist's decision. Ideally, the reader shouldn't see it coming.)

More Detailed Tips

Drawing on real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, are attractive choices for students who are looking for a "personal essay" topic. But simply describing powerful emotional experiences is not the same thing as generating emotional responses in the reader. (See "Show, Don't (Just) Tell.")

For those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies, here are some additional ideas.

If you are having trouble getting started, look out the window. The whole world is a story, and every moment is a miracle.
-Bruce Taylor, UWEC Professor of Creative Writing

  • Keep a notebook.  To R. V. Cassill, notebooks are "incubators," a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you.
  • Write on a regular, daily basis.  Sit down and compose sentences for a couple of hours every day -- even if you don't feel like it.
  • Collect stories from everyone you meet.  Keep the amazing, the unusual, the strange, the irrational stories you hear and use them for your own purposes. Study them for the underlying meaning and apply them to your understanding of the human condition.

Read, Read, Read

Read a LOT of Chekhov. Then re-read it. Read Raymond Carver, Earnest Hemingway, Alice Munro, and Tobias Wolff. If you don't have time to read all of these authors, stick to Chekhov. He will teach you more than any writing teacher or workshop ever could.
-Allyson Goldin, UWEC Asst. Professor of Creative Writing

2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph

In today's fast-moving world, the first sentence of your short story should catch your reader's attention with the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict. Begin with tension and immediacy. Remember that short stories need to start close to their end. 

No I heard my neighbor through the wall.

Dry and uninteresting.
Yes The neighbor behind us practiced scream therapy in his shower almost every day.

The second sentence catches the reader's attention. Who is this guy who goes in his shower every day and screams? Why does he do that? What, exactly, is "scream therapy"? Let's keep reading...

Yes

The first time I heard him, I stood in the bathroom listening at our shared wall for ten minutes, debating the wisdom of calling the police. It was very different from living in the duplex over middle-aged Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their two young sons in Duluth.

The rest of the paragraph introduces I and an internal conflict as the protagonist debates a course of action and introduces an intriguing contrast of past and present setting. 

"It is important to understand the basic elements of fiction writing before you consider how to put everything together. This process is comparable to producing something delectable in the kitchen--any ingredient that you put into your bowl of  dough  impacts your finished loaf of bread. To create a perfect loaf, you must balance ingredients baked for the correct amount of time and enhanced with the right polishing glaze." -Laurel Yourke

3. Developing Characters

Your job, as a writer of short fiction--whatever your beliefs--is to put complex personalities on stage and let them strut and fret their brief hour. Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value--that will, in Chekhov's words, "make [man] see what he is like." -Rick Demarnus

In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story. Here is a partial list of character details to help you get started.

  • Name
  • Age
  • Job
  • Ethnicity
  • Appearance
  • Residence
  • Pets
  • Religion
  • Hobbies
  • Single or married?
  • Children?
  • Temperament
  • Favorite color
  • Friends
  • Favorite foods
  • Drinking patterns
  • Phobias
  • Faults
  • Something hated?
  • Secrets?
  • Strong memories?
  • Any illnesses?
  • Nervous gestures?
  • Sleep patterns

Imagining all these details will help you get to know your character, but your reader probably won't need to know much more than the most important things in four areas:

  • Appearance.  Gives your reader a visual understanding of the character.
  • Action.  Show the reader what kind of person your character is, by describing actions rather than simply listing adjectives.
  • Speech. Develop the character as a person -- don't merely have your character announce important plot details.
  • Thought.  Bring the reader into your character's mind, to show them your character's unexpressed memories, fears, and hopes.

For example, let's say I want to develop a college student persona for a short story that I am writing. What do I know about her?

Her name is Jen, short for Jennifer Mary Johnson. She is 21 years old. She is a fair-skinned Norwegian with blue eyes, long, curly red hair, and is 5 feet 6 inches tall. Contrary to typical redheads, she is actually easygoing and rather shy. She loves cats and has two of them named Bailey and Allie. She is a technical writing major with a minor in biology. Jen plays the piano and is an amateur photographer. She lives in the dorms at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She eats pizza every day for lunch and loves Red Rose tea. She cracks her knuckles when she is nervous. Her mother just committed suicide. 

4. Choose a Point of View

Point of view is the narration of the story from the perspective of first, second, or third person. As a writer, you need to determine who is going to tell the story and how much information is available for the narrator to reveal in the short story. The narrator can be directly involved in the action subjectively, or the narrator might only report the action objectively. 

  • First Person.  The story is told from the view of "I." The narrator is either the protagonist (main character) and directly affected by unfolding events, or the narrator is a secondary character telling the story revolving around the protagonist. This is a good choice for beginning writers because it is the easiest to write. 

    Yes I saw a tear roll down his cheek. I had never seen my father cry before. I looked away while he brushed the offending cheek with his hand.
  • Second Person.  The story is told directly to "you", with the reader as a participant in the action.

    Yes You laughed loudly at the antics of the clown. You clapped your hands with joy.
      (See also Jerz on interactive fiction.)
  • Third Person.  The story tells what "he", "she," or "it" does. The third-person narrator's perspective can be limited (telling the story from one character's viewpoint) or omniscient (where the narrator knows everything about all of the characters).

    Yes He ran to the big yellow loader sitting on the other side of the gravel pit shack.

    Your narrator might take sides in the conflict you present, might be as transparent as possible, or might advocate a position that you want your reader to challenge (this is the "unreliable narrator" strategy).

Yourke on point of view:

  • First Person.  "Unites narrator and reader through a series of secrets" when they enter one character's perceptions. However, it can "lead to telling" and limits readers connections to other characters in the short story.
  • Second Person.  "Puts readers within the actual scene so that readers confront possibilities directly." However, it is important to place your characters "in a tangible environment" so you don't "omit the details readers need for clarity."
  • Third Person Omniscient. Allows you to explore all of the characters' thoughts and motivations. Transitions are extremely important as you move from character to character.
  • Third Person Limited.  "Offers the intimacy of one character's perceptions." However, the writer must "deal with character absence from particular scenes."

5. Write Meaningful Dialogue

Make your readers hear the pauses between the sentences. Let them see characters lean forward, fidget with their cuticles, avert their eyes, uncross their legs. -Jerome Stern

Dialogue is what your characters say to each other (or to themselves).

Each speaker gets his/her own paragraph, and the paragraph includes whatever you wish to say about what the character is doing when speaking. (See: "Quotation Marks: Using Them in Dialogue".)

No "Where are you going?" John cracked his knuckles while he looked at the floor.  "To the racetrack." Mary edged toward the door, keeping her eyes on John's  bent head. "Not again,"  John stood up, flexing his fingers. "We are already maxed out on our credit cards."

The above paragraph is confusing, because it is not clear when one speech stops and the other starts.
No

     "Where are you going?" John asked nervously.
     "To the racetrack," Mary said, trying to figure out whether John was too upset to let her get away with it this time.
     "Not again," said John, wondering how they would make that month's rent. "We are already maxed out on our credit cards."


The second example is mechanically correct, since it uses a separate paragraph to present each speaker's turn advancing the conversation. But the narrative material between the direct quotes is mostly useless.

Write Meaningful Dialogue Labels

"John asked nervously" is an example of "telling." The author could write "John asked very nervously" or "John asked so nervously that his voice was shaking," and it still wouldn't make the story any more effective.

How can the author convey John's state of mind, without coming right out and tellinig the reader about it? By inference. That is, mention a detail that conjures up in the reader's mind the image of a nervous person.

Yes John sat up. "Wh-- where are you going?"
Yes "Where are you going?" John stammered, staring at his Keds.
Yes Deep breath. Now or never. "Where are you going?"
No John sat up and took a deep breath, knowing that his confrontation with Mary had to come now, or it would never come at all. "Wh-- where are you going?" he stammered nervously, staring at his Keds.
 

Beware -- a little detail goes a long way.

Why would your reader bother to think about what is going on, if the author carefully explains what each and every line means?

Let's return to the first example, and show how dialogue labels can affect the meaning of a passage.

Yes

     "Where are you going?" John cracked his knuckles while he looked at the floor.
     "To the racetrack." Mary edged toward the door, keeping her eyes on John's  bent head.
     "Not again," John stood up, flexing his fingers. "We are already maxed out on our credit cards."


In the above revision, John nervously asks Mary where she is going, and Mary seems equally nervous about going.

But if you play a little with the paragraphing..

Yes

     "Where are you going?"
     John cracked his knuckles while he looked at the floor. "To the racetrack."
     Mary edged toward the door, keeping her eyes on John's bent head. "Not again."
     John stood up, flexing his fingers. "We are already maxed out on our credit cards."


All I changed was the paragraphing (and I changed a comma to a period.)

Now Mary seems more aggressive -- she seems to be moving to block John, who seems nervous and self-absorbed. And John seems to be bringing up the credit card problem as an excuse for his trip to the racing track. He and Mary seem to be desperate to for money now. I'd rather read the rest of the second story than the rest of the first one.

6. Use Setting and Context

Setting moves readers most when it contributes to an organic whole. So close your eyes and picture your characters within desert, jungle, or suburb--whichever setting shaped them. Imagining this helps balance location and characterization. Right from the start, view your characters inhabiting a distinct place.  -- Laurel Yourke

Setting includes the time, location, context, and atmosphere where the plot takes place.

  • Remember to combine setting with characterization and plot.

  • Include enough detail to let your readers picture the scene but only details that actually add something to the story. (For example, do not describe Mary locking the front door, walking across the yard, opening the garage door, putting air in her bicycle tires, getting on her bicycle--none of these details matter except that she rode out of the driveway without looking down the street.)

  • Use two or more senses in your descriptions of setting.

  • Rather than feed your readers information about the weather, population statistics, or how far it is to the grocery store, substitute descriptive details so your reader can experience the location the way your characters do.

    Yes Our sojourn in the desert was an educational contrast with its parched heat, dust storms, and cloudless blue sky filled with the blinding hot sun. The rare thunderstorm was a cause for celebration as the dry cement tunnels of the aqueducts filled rapidly with rushing water. Great rivers of sand flowed around and through the metropolitan inroads of man's progress in the greater Phoenix area, forcefully moved aside for concrete and steel structures. Palm trees hovered over our heads and saguaro cactuses saluted us with their thorny arms.

     

7. Set Up the Plot

Plot is what happens, the storyline, the action. Jerome Stern says it is how you set up the situation, where the turning points of the story are, and what the characters do at the end of the story.

A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. -Jane Burroway

Understanding these story elements for developing actions and their end results will help you plot your next short story. 

  • Explosion or "Hook." A thrilling, gripping, stirring event or problem that grabs the reader's attention right away.
  • Conflict.  A character versus the internal self or an external something or someone.
  • Exposition.  Background information required for seeing the characters in context.
  • Complication.  One or more problems that keep a character from their intended goal.
  • Transition.  Image, symbol, dialogue, that joins paragraphs and scenes together.
  • Flashback.  Remembering something that happened before the short story takes place.
  • Climax.  When the rising action of the story reaches the peak.
  • Falling Action.  Releasing the action of the story after the climax.
  • Resolution.  When the internal or external conflict is resolve.

Brainstorming.  If you are having trouble deciding on a plot, try brainstorming. Suppose you have a protagonist whose husband comes home one day and says he doesn't love her any more and he is leaving. What are actions that can result from this situation?

    1. She becomes a workaholic.
    2. Their children are unhappy.
    3. Their children want to live with their dad.
    4. She moves to another city.
    5. She gets a new job.
    6. They sell the house.
    7. She meets a psychiatrist and falls in love.
    8. He comes back and she accepts him.
    9. He comes back and she doesn't accept him.
    10. She commits suicide.
    11. He commits suicide.
    12. She moves in with her parents.

The next step is to select one action from the list and brainstorm another list from that particular action.

8. Create Conflict and Tension

Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because in literature only trouble is interesting. It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story: birth, love, sex, work, and death.  -Janet Burroway

Conflict produces tension that makes the story begin. Tension is created by opposition between the character or characters and internal or external forces or conditions. By balancing the opposing forces of the conflict, you keep readers glued to the pages wondering how the story will end.

Possible Conflicts Include:

  • The protagonist against another individual
  • The protagonist against nature (or technology)
  • The protagonist against society
  • The protagonist against God
  • The protagonist against himself or herself.

Yourke's Conflict Checklist

  • Mystery.  Explain just enough to tease readers. Never give everything away.
  • Empowerment.  Give both sides options.
  • Progression.  Keep intensifying the number and type of obstacles the protagonist faces.
  • Causality.  Hold fictional characters more accountable than real people. Characters who make mistakes frequently pay, and, at least in fiction, commendable folks often reap rewards.
  • Surprise.  Provide sufficient complexity to prevent readers predicting events too far in advance.
  • Empathy.  Encourage reader identification with characters and scenarios that pleasantly or (unpleasantly) resonate with their own sweet dreams (or night sweats).
  • Insight.  Reveal something about human nature.
  • Universality.  Present a struggle that most readers find meaningful, even if the details of that struggle reflect a unique place and time.
  • High Stakes.  Convince readers that the outcome matters because someone they care about could lose something precious. Trivial clashes often produce trivial fiction.

9. Build to a Crisis or Climax

This is the turning point of the story--the most exciting or dramatic moment.

The crisis may be a recognition, a decision, or a resolution. The character understands what hasn't been seen before, or realizes what must be done, or finally decides to do it. It's when the worm turns. Timing is crucial. If the crisis occurs too early, readers will expect still another turning point. If it occurs too late, readers will get impatient--the character will seem rather thick. -Jerome Stern

Jane Burroway says that the crisis "must always be presented as a scene. It is "the moment" the reader has been waiting for. In Cinderella's case, "the payoff is when the slipper fits."

While a good story needs a crisis, a random event such as a car crash or a sudden illness is simply an emergency --unless it somehow involves a conflict that makes the reader care about the characters (see: "Crisis vs. Conflict"). 

10. Find a Resolution

The solution to the conflict. In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently.

Yourke examines some of the options for ending a story.

  • Open.  Readers determine the meaning.

YesBrendan's eyes looked away from the priest and up to the mountains.

  • Resolved.  Clear-cut outcome.

YesWhile John watched in despair, Helen loaded up the car with her belongings and drove away.

  • Parallel to Beginning.  Similar to beginning situation or image.

YesThey were driving their 1964 Chevrolet Impala down the highway while the wind blew through their hair.

 YesHer father drove up in a new 1964 Chevrolet Impala, a replacement for the one that burned up.

  • Monologue.  Character comments.

Yes I wish Tom could have known Sister Dalbec's prickly guidance before the dust devils of Sin City battered his soul.

  • Dialogue.  Characters converse.

  • Literal Image.  Setting or aspect of setting resolves the plot.

Yes  The aqueducts were empty now and the sun was shining once more.

  • Symbolic Image.  Details represent a meaning beyond the literal one.

Yes Looking up at the sky, I saw a cloud cross the shimmering blue sky above us as we stood in the morning heat of Sin City.

Got Writer's Block?

The Writer's Block 

Comprehensive Web site that offers solutions to beating writer's block such as various exercises (not necessarily physical), advice from prolific writers, and how to know if you really have writer's block.

Overcoming Writer's Block 
Precise, short list of ways to start writing again.

Learn through Schooling
Some online colleges and universities offer creative writing courses. Look for ones that offer creative writing courses that cover the plot and structure of short stories.

  • Regular access to an instructor who is a published author, and a peer group that is motivated to read your drafts, might just be the extra motivation you need to develop your own skills.
  • If you are counting on the credits transferring to help you complete an academic program, check with your university registrar.


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133 Comments

shevon said:

hi am about writing a short stories about my friend
she is in a relationship and she is being abused

Shevon, fiction is often a good way to get across an idea that people won't accept directly. If you make your protagonist too similar to your friend, or you have a character come right out and say, "I'm being abused," your story might look like preaching. I'd suggest that you leave several subtle hints -- refer in passing to "She picked out a turtleneck that hid the bruises well" or say "She saw his muscles tense, but then he looked out the window, as if, this time, he couldn't be bothered with her." Leave hints so that the reader has to put them together to figure out what's happening.

(See my Show/Tell handout.)

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative/showing.htm

Musa muhammad said:

You are making an indelible contributions to humanity with your informative writings. I wish to have an oppurtunity to emulate you. Thanks.

shankar said:

good and simple

Rosale Lobo RN said:

Your piece is just what I was looking for. I am a nurse who has been asked to write a series of short stories depicting nurses in various situations that would necessitate them writing proper documentation in order to remain litigious free. I will use many of the techniques you have suggested to bring these stories together. If there are any other websites or suggestion you might have based on my assignment, I am open to learn. Thanks again for bringing this all together so nicely.
Rosale RN

Lisa P. Stevenson said:

I am a teacher who loves to write, and I want to inspire a love of writing and good literature in young people. I believe most influential writers are "born" not made, but we can all continue to grow as craftsmen. Creative growth is often stunted and viewed as indulgent and frivoless, but good writing is timeless and enduring and should be highly valued. Thank you for making these "nuts-and-bolts" tools available. I will use them to guide my students and myself as well! I will be looking into more of your tutorials very soon.

lois lewis said:

i like you site just reading I learn a lot.

Cath said:

Hi,
Im writing a story set in 6BC, about the virgin mary and jesus. I'm finding it hard to keep to the language of the setting. Any suggestions?

Unless you're writing in Aramaic, you could save a lot of trouble by just acting as if your story has been translated into modern English -- without any slang, of course, unless you want it to be distracting and probably silly.

Najla M. Jackson said:

Thanks for the straightforward information, it's a good refresher for both the newbies and experienced writers.

Chris L. Pilling said:

Thankyou very much, this guided me very well to wrote a short story for a project I have to do.Writing a story is a huge task for me but this guide has taught me the basics of writing a story.
Thankyou again

Jimmy Guan said:

Thank you so much, I think this might just start my writing career. Thank you so much.

Oscar said:

I wrote a short story, and my classmates at a local Jr. College said that I should stick to one tense. I don't understand, because I use the third person narrator which means he can interact with the characters, and go through time. Past and present,Right?

Is it possible to choose more than one point of view?

It's probably better to listen to your readers if they are confused, rather than argue with them about why they shouldn't be confused. Even if your narrator travels through time, your reader will want to live through each scene sequentially. If you want to break the rules to make a point, that's fine, but you should know the rules well and break them deliberately, not accidentally.

Victoria Gonzales said:

Thanks for helping me on my project this website is awsome

Dianne Joy said:

I had written a short story for children and some commented that I should become a writer. Could someone take a look at it and give me your thoughts. It is about overcoming fear as a child and facing it head on.

Dianne, you might try to find a writer's critique group, and offer to read someone else's story in return.

You can probably find such a group online, or maybe such a group meets at your local library. Another option is to take a creative writing class at a school in your community.

Rebecca said:

This was so helpful. I write as a hobby; over fourteen short stories in the past six years. It's a shame that I've never taken the time to figure out exactly what goes into my writing process until now. I sought out some good creative writing tips today as I am working on a story that is giving me grief. This blog was just what I needed. It helped me dissect my work, clued me into what I do well, and also showed me what I need to focus on to improve my work. Much appreciated. Thanks.

enigma said:

you're site is good and helpful! I learned a lot... which gave me a realization that what I've just written for my project on our english class is somewhat crappy. I really need to revise or just change it. Like, back to zero

It's supposedly due tomorrow *panic* but I'm glad my teacher postponed the deadline.

Phil South said:

Great post, Dennis, I love the examples. I'd like to use this post in my teaching if you don't mind, with credit of course. We love any kind of materials which people can take away.

You might enjoy this post of mine http://goingdownwriting.wordpress.com about how to be a Creative Genius. Okay it doesn't have as many examples as your piece, but I think I have a few little nuggets of original thought in there. Let me know what you think.

Phil
UK based writing and filmmaking teacher

Secily Martinez said:

Hello thank you so much your tips helped me so much. Well I'm writing about a young girl in the Holocaust and her family leaves her by herself for a few weeks and tell her they will be back but they never do come back. I'm not sure how to end it though can you help me?

Critiquing is real work, and those who do it well put a lot of time into it -- time that they could be spending with their families, or on their own paid work. As a high school student, I wrote a fan letter to an author, who connected me to her editor; I paid this editor $25 to critique some of my stories, and it was definitely worth it.

So I have three general suggestions. One, read a lot of Holocaust stories, so that you're not tempted to end with a moral that wraps too much up, or an ending that does injustice to real survivors and victims of the Holocaust.

Second, see whether your local library or bookstore has a fiction-writing group -- or put up a notice and start one yourself. There are also many online communities of writers who form critiquing circles. (I'd be wary of any such sites that require you to pay, or that promise they will publish you.)

Third, consider taking a writing class at a local university, where you will get the instructor's full attention, as well as a classroom full of critiquing partners.

Aisha Hicks said:

Probably one of the best pieces I have read about the technicalities of writing a good short story. I believe this info can also be quite useful in writing a novel.

Thanks!

shantal said:

this is a very good topic

Shankha said:

I agree with the others, this one is one of the best tips I have read till date on writing. Specially short story writing. Thanks a lot for this kind of a post. It's a treasure for the newbies like me and a guideline for the "regular" writers too.
In my blog, I write short stories on lives around me. If you please have a look and comment on at least one story I have written, I shall be really happy.

ashley said:

i need help for my exam for chistmas i am in grade 6 and ineed help please help me

Shida said:

These tips are very useful to me as im still learning to write well.

James Bent said:

Great post - totally agree with all the points, especially have a great first paragraph, even great first sentence - something that really sucks people in. And for me the other big thing is authentic and genuine characters. I use pictures from the print version of the Sartorialist to base my characters on, then also I have some other photo books with pictures of random things from round the house, on the street, cityscapes etc... which become the settings.

I'd also like to add Haruki Murakami as a great person to read - his collection: 'The Elephant Vanishes' has some really great examples of short stories - great narrative voice and also a great ability, like Raymond Carver, to make great stories come out of the everyday and normal.

I keep an offbeat short fiction blog at: http://jamesbent.com/blog

Tom C said:

Thank you very much for your information it has really helped i started writing tonight and am finding it great

darlyn may laluan said:

give me some example of story about friendship and it has 10 people that has a script. please....................... i need that 2morow.

Vinutha said:

Thank you a lot for this information. It has been very helpful for me to write about a couple who have a bet to not spend anything. Items that each of them like keep getting shipped to their house and neither of them will admit to buying anything. In the end, it turns out there is a web show that has placed secret cameras in their house and the viewers are the ones sending things to their house. This is revealed at the end of the story when the couple is so fed up they decide to file for divorce. One suggestion I have is for you to include more about the body of the story, as opposed to the many elements of it.

Sarah Allen said:

Thanks for all the great advice! As someone interested in creative writing all these ideas are very helpful. I think every writer needs to keep up on their homework, and remind themselves of what constitutes good writing.

(my creative writing blog)

Adrian Boyd said:

I am very intrigued by what you said about "second person" perspective where the reader is the participant, everything seen through the readers eyes as the central character.
This is something i have never seen before. Can you give any examples of a novel or short story written in this format or an author who is particularly good at this.

The Wikipedia entry is a good place to start. Don't stop there -- use it to find literary works you want to read, and learn directly from them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-person_narrative

sage said:

hi, i have to write a short story for an english class, and really wana make an impact. i was very interested in writing in second person, and the wikipedia page is helping me very much. i was wondering if you could give me some small pointers on how to write a good second person short story.

Sage, the only second-person writing I have done has been for old-school text adventure games. I did write a short guide to writing exposition for text-based games ("interactive fiction"), and you're welcome to take a look and see whether it helps.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/if/gallery/exposition.html

Aly S said:

Hey, I am i high school student who is interested in becoming a professional author. I just wanted to Thank you ever so much for all the useful information on this site. It has really helped me alot in times of writers block. The ideas and techniques you have for getting ideas out and down onto ( paper or computer) are just brilliant. So thank you once again for all your advice.

Kelsey said:

My ONLY complaint with this list of tips is that I've always found "he said" and "she said" to be much more effective than a litany of variations on how somebody says things (bubbled, gushed, exclaimed). If your reader can't tell from the context and dialogue HOW a line should be spoken, then you're not showing the scene adequately enough. :) Otherwise, a fantastic collection of helpful hints and tips. I especially like the outlining questions for a short story development.

Good point. I do teach my journalism students to use "said" (or other equally neutral phrasings, such as "according to"), so I certainly see the value of the word in declarative contexts. But you're right, a thesaurus can be as much of a crutch as a string of adjectives.

isabella tomeu said:

your info really helped me for my fcat writes tomorrow!!!!!

Great Advise. I am in the process of writing my own short story and is struggling with the plot. Your advise was to brainstorm a list of ideas and pick and chose. I don't agree with you when you stated that a story has to began with tension.

Susie said:

I just had a few questions... is there anyone willing to give advice... share an idea?

Is it better to describe your protagonist to a "T" if the story follows him... or do you give a brief description when he's introduced and comments and/or references to his appearance in the next hundred words or so?

When I need to go back to a place I've already described, how do I let the reader wee where the character is at without being redundant?

Is it good to lay hints about the climax that is to come? Some people will figrue it out, but it makes it more a reality than a coincidence when hints are revealed...?

kelly said:

I really need help wroting my first novel thanks for the help! Any more advice ? i seem to be spinning my wheels I am a bit young to be published, but I really want to be? Got any ideas

Susie and Kelly:

I suggest that you find an English teacher or librarian in your area, and ask whether he/she knows of any writer's clubs, where people meet, trade drafts of works-in-progress, and hash out the very kinds of things you're asking about. You can also look for online communities that do the same thing, but I would strongly caution you not to spend any money on them, since there are scammers out there.

Dave Gomez said:

I had to write a short story for school and was having trouble with it. I found a site called www.storyjoin.com The way it works is by allowing you to start a story and have other members contribute to the story or you can complete it yourself. It made it much easier for me.

luca said:

Thank you so much for this! It really helped a lot!!

Wordpainter said:

thanks for sharing your knowledge... As you can see, I'm an average Filipino 14-years-old girl who favors and enjoys (and makes) novels.. I totally love reading, and I admire authors who writes amazingly (especially fiction stories).. I've been able to make two long stories (but not yet enough to be called a novel) now, starring me and my classmates (for starters XD).. so.. thanks for posting this... really..
If possible, can you reply and add more to this? Thanks..

Pablo Palanca said:

Thank you very much , this is just awesome !
Greetings from Argentina

Darkness said:

I'm a new writer I use Vampire stories my friend really likes them I just don't know if I should the German American or German or American formats because the first one is about Kat Her name it is short for Katelyn Michele Brylone how do you think I should end the german format with love or death?

The last paragraph in the section "Write Meaningful Dialogue Labels"
(above) is mystifying to me (particularly the second sentence) because
in the previous paragraphs of the section it certainly seemed as if Mary
was the one going to the racetrack.

Here's the paragraph:

"Now Mary seems more aggressive -- she seems to be moving
to block John, who seems nervous and self-absorbed. And John
seems to be bringing up the credit card problem as an excuse
for his trip to the racing track. He and Mary seem to be desperate
to for money now. I'd rather read the rest of the second story
than the rest of the first one."

Bonnie, in that section, I was far less interested in creating a coherent story, and more interested in demonstrating the effectiveness of dialogue labels.

chencho said:

your site proved helpful in my odd hours. further, the viewers could benefit a lot if such tips are elaborated.

Cerpen said:

hai ..
I Anto from Indonesia
I love reading your articles. really helped me in writing short stories.
greetings from my
thanks

Brian said:

Can someone tell me how to create a good villain too. Like most of the stories I read have some crazy villains, and always that that if the villain is good then the story can also be as equally good? Does that make sense?

All good villains think they are the heroes of their own story. Give them a good reason to hate the hero -- probably for a flaw or infraction that the hero feels guilty about. Give the readers a good reason to like at least some part of the villain; maybe he paints well, or she is devoted to her frail and aging father. Of course, depending on the genre, you may need a villain who is unrepentant evil, like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, but Sam sees Gollum as another villain, while Frodo sees Gollum as a vision of Frodo's own future (another victim of the cursed ring). Gollum is far more dramatically interesting than Sauron, since at times we identify with, and even root for, Gollum (or, rather, the Smeagol side of Gollum).

Chey said:

Thanks,

I'm a young "Author" Even though I have never published anything, I write for fun. But it's quickly becoming a great hobby. I really needed some information to make my short stories and Characters come to life.. Most of the random people I have let read those Stories, They enjoy, and can't wait until I come out with more.. I appreciate Everything!!!
This really helped me to become a more a organized "Author"

britteny riddick said:

i love dogs n will love to tell story about them

Mary Jane said:

I have to write a story for English. I was thinking of writing about domestic violence and was wondering if you could give me a few tips?

Mary Jane, see the first question in this thread, from shevon, and my reply. Best of luck.

Reberto said:

My current focus of writing is specially inclined towards composing short stories. As it seem, the are easier to read and certainly not that easy to mold, when someone (like me) is used to using up of many words. Your tips are surely of help and are effective. Thanks for sharing those.

Frannx said:

I am recently turned 14 and have written the start of a story already, which I hope one day to publish, after showing it to my English teacher for his opinion he seems to think I am a brilliant writer. Our latest assignment was to write a short story for homework and he keeps telling me that he expects a lot from me. I have been really worried as I really don't know how to write a story properly. This has taken such a burden off of my shoulders, thank you so much, all of your work has helped me so much, I can't thank you enough. x

Rosie said:

Hi. I am writing a short story about the holocaust. There are two brothers- their family was brutally murdered during Kristallnacht, 1938 and they had been sent off to a ghetto in the Ukraine. There's a revolt and they manage to escape. It's a dramatic race to outrun the Nazis who are hunting them down through the forest. How should it end -would it spoil the story is they were both shot? Please reply ASAP!

Rosie, you've chosen a challenging topic. If your goal is to demonstrate you've learned history, a story sounds like a great way to present a class project. See the response I left for Secily Martinez on this page.

N. T. said:

This page is a really great resource for writers. In your Emergency Tips section, I am intrigued by the idea of "morally significant" actions and choices. I have never thought about it in quite those terms before, but, yes, the actions and choices of the character are meaningful when they affect or reflect his/her identity in a fundamental way, so I think "morally significant" is a good way of expressing this.

daijiah oates said:

thank you for all your imformation i really need it if there are any other webcites that you have then please email it to me

Rebecca said:

I am writing a short story for my English class. How do you find a plot?

Personally? I create characters with specific motivations and weaknesses, and imagine what they would do if they were in a room together. There is no single right way to discover the plot.

If the issue you face is writer's block, then I suggest you read, read, read until you have something you want to say. If the issue you face is a pressing deadline, then see the "Emergency Tips" at the top of the page.

John Jerz said:

Hello Dennis, this is your older brother John - I recently wrote a new short story, which I have posted on the Internet (http://mysite.verizon.net/vzesz4a6/current/id899.html). You might enjoy reading it. Any comments? I did not present the climax as a scene, but left the resolution vague on purpose.

Mitchell said:

I've been wanting to write something for a long time now, and I feel like I'm being held back by something. I have had many experiences in my life and would love to share them with people, but I just can't seem to sort out where to start or really what to begin with. Even my dreams are now starting to scream, "write me down already!" It's as if all of it wants to just come out at once and so when I sit down to write, I end up just staring and nothing actually comes out. I was wondering if you had any way to get over this. Any words of wisdom would be great.

leila said:

thanks

Will Beinstein said:

I'm just getting back to writing short stories after many years away from them. But short story writing is something I dearly love, especially humourus stories.

This (above) is probably some of the very best writing advise and guidance I've every seen, far exceeding anything one would gleam from text books or gather from creative writing classes. Thank you for caring enough to share your wisdome with me.

Heather said:

I like to write even if it is notihing that anyone would be intrested in or read. I have so many thoughts ideas about stories I would like to share, words just spill out. Currently I am working on a short story for Christmas. The theme is taken from the night before Christmas however, the twist is it is written for country folks. I would like to share if possible for your thoughts. It is a gift however if possible I would not mind getting this published as a kids gift or a dirty santa gift. I find the information on this site is very helpful and will keep this site as a favorite of mine. Truly, I need all the help when it comes

K8 said:

I am currently trying to write a short story; I want to explore the thoughts/feelings/emotions of two characters simultanously as the interact, to encourage the reader to compare/contrast their personalitlies and understand how they relate to and misunderstand each other.
I think that this may be best done in the third person omniscient POV, however I have been warned away from this style by online "tips for writers" type websites, saying that it is clunky or confusing to readers.

I also realise that this will require me to repeatedly "jump" from one to the other during their conversation (something often warned against), and it is key that I don't loose the reader.
Do you have any tips for a situtation such as this? As it seems I am trying to fly in the face of much advice! Or have I set myself an impossible task?

Thanks in advance,

Sounds like you might actually want to try hypertext, giving the reader the chance to jump via links.

http://www.waltersorrells.com/1.html

Don Locke said:

I agree that he first paragraph or even sub-title should grasp he readers attention right away. Something like should "Overweight people pay more for Health Insurance".

The 1ts paragraph has to be just as strong to maintain the attention with all he tweeting and abbreviated text-messaging going on. Unfortunately, images still grab people more than anything. Well, unless it's a strongly offensive phrase which I saw on the back of one's car the other day. So, heck, I contradicted myself here.

Donna McEwen said:

I really have become inspired to write and try to recognize a long desired goal of mine. Thanks for the structure information, guidance, examples, tips as well as the encouragement.
I shall refer to your website frequently in the next several weeks or months as I attempt to realize my desires.
Donna M.

p365s2

Vicktoria Deveraux said:

this site was veryhelpfull if a bit confusing it helped me alot even if i didnt understand half of it. i think your helping alot of people .

Emily Marin said:

Thanks for all the tips, this may really get me started with the writing career I hope to make for myself.

Dan said:

So... the exposition link doesn't really work and I've been wondering... how exactly do you present it (exposition). I'm currently writing a sci-fi short story from the first point of view. And, well, since it's sci-fi I just have to explain what the hell is going on at some point and that point also shouldn't be at the very end. But whenever i try to do it, I always end up telling stuff for at least four long paragraphs. All that while understanding that these paragraphs might bore a reader to death. So my question is the following: how should I deal with it? Should I stick with the write-a-page-of-exposition-and-forget plan? Or should I spread it across the whole story in minor pieces (but won't that be confusing)?

Glad to hear it, Emily.

Dan, you could write it out in gruesome detail in your own notebook, or draw a picture, but try to reveal only the details that are necessary. The general concept of SHOW vs TELL applies here as well.

For instance, instead of saying, "On planet Floober, dogs glow because (long technical explanation), and cats float, because (long technical explanation)," you might bring a person from Floober to earth, and have that person say, "I saw your fiancėe in the park. I noticed her dog was in need of re-igniting, but I failed to relevitate her cat. She shared with me her mace-scented cologne. What does 'dumped' mean?"

Of course, that's just silliness, but I slipped in some character development and advanced the plot instead of just spending all that time explaining exactly why dogs glow and cats float. If you pick only the absolutely necessary details to explain fully, you can divide and conquer, and just hint at the rest. Or, have a nonspecialist along for the ride, the way Doctor Who always has a companion who asks all the questions the viewer needs answered.

ADEWUMI OMOWUMI said:

its a nice idea helping people about writing .am actually writing short story about death.any hints from u will be fascinating.

Luke A. said:

I'm writing a short story in third person that already has it's own fictional universe. For the most part all the characters, settings, and background information, are already there. What I'm having a problem with is the description of the settings and the items in my short story. The thing about it is, my readers will already have in their mind most of my settings and items and things of that sort before they even read my story. My main question is: When does description in this type of short story become excessive or fluff? I have a word limit, therefore, I want to make sure I get my actual story in with providing as little description as possible, but at the same time, I want to have some.

Overall, I'm trying to find a good balance. Should I just stick with my plan of getting my main story out first, and then go back and add description as needed?

Thanks,
Luke

Wow, I should really consider starting a creative writing tips forum, since this long list of comments has long ago gotten out of hand.

@AO: Not much to go on there. "Death" is very abstract... On the other hand, I have a strong memory of playing in the basement with my toddler son, who saw a bug and started screaming for me to kill it, so I did; then he saw the bug dead and asked me to make it run around again, and I had to tell him I couldn't. He was soon playing happily, but I felt like a failure. That's probably more of a setup for a poem than a short story, but the point is it's not about "death" its about a specific incident and it describes a specific cause-effect chain of events.

@Luke A: If you have your narrator say, "Commander Countdown could see the secret agent who infiltrated his spaceblimp was coldly professional and stylish at the same time; in fact, she wore a trans-galactic etherwave transmitter in a bracelet and a tuner-receiver in an earring," that is too much. But consider, "Still leveling the blaster at Countdown, the intruder touched a bauble dangling from her ear and whispered a question into her bracelet. What she heard made her laugh." All we need to know about the gadgetry, during this action sequence, is that the character has ready access to two-way communication, but the description does more than just describe tech -- it also establishes character.

What if she "stroked" the bauble and "purred" the question and "giggled" at the response, or "twisted" the bauble and "barked" the question and "huffed" at the response?

Simply saying "her jewelry doubled as a two-way radio" misses the opportunity to let the reader envision how the character uses the gadget.

Buzzer said:

Probably one of the best pieces I have read about the technicalities of writing a good short story. I believe this info can also be quite useful in writing a novel.

Victoria Thomas said:

This is an interesting, no nonsense, write to the point site. I'm going to try my hand at composing a short story from it, and the links provided, to post on Bookrix.

We'll see what the outcome is.

I don't really see the point of posting to BookRix. You can always get a free blog, maybe with a few friends, and post your work a chapter at a time there.

I have no particular knowledge of BookRix, but before you spend any money at all, and before you post your manuscript to any site, I suggest that you do a Google search for the name of the site plus the word "scam". It may be that BookRix is harmless, but this page attracts many of comment from scammers looking for fresh marks and spammers looking for link traffic. Beware.

Abby M said:

I found this article to be incredibly helpful. I am working on a short story that explores the question: are children of bad fathers destined to become bad parents themselves? The story is based on real people, and I would like to write it in first person, but I am having trouble deciding on a narrator and on focusing the plot. The narrator I have been using is a middle-aged man whose wife has just passed away. This causes him to go back home to his damaged family, where he stays with his cousin, whose wife and children have left him. Do you have any advice on how to turn this into a good short story?

Steal from the great writers. Don't steal too much from any one writer, though, so that you mix all the parts together in a way that's yours alone. If you read something that affects you, study the writing to figure out how the author created the effect.

Rather than start with a story idea and search for the right technique, consider writing short practice stories that test your ability to use understatement, or misdirection, or role reversal, or the unreliable narrator, or foreshadowing, etc.

Visual artists make sketches in charcoal before they break out the oils, and sculptors practice with clay before they buy a chunk of marble. Once you develop a few techniques you feel confident with, the stories will follow.

Tony said:

I'm writing a short story on one's ecounter with dogs. The person has been bitten by dogs several times. But it wa not that serious. How do I make the story feel more "dramatic"?

Dennis G. Jerz said:

Raise the stakes? Give the protagonist a huge fear of dogs, but an even bigger need to overcome that fear. But we have to know and care about your protagonist -- simply describing an encounter with a scary dog is just a crisis, not a story about someone we care about. What moral choices will your hero make, and how do the consequences of those choices drive the plot? Is the dog the antagonist, or is the dog simply a tool that the antagonist uses to make your hero's life miserable?

Haile said:

Thank you for the tips given here for those who want to write STs. I appreciate your kindness to give us these invaluable notes.


Aaron Vick said:

This site definitely helped with my story. I am currently working on two more projects, and they seem to be getting done more quickly than the last thanks to this web site. Dennis G. Jerz, I just wanted to say, you have been a great help also. Keep the great suggestions coming.

Tas said:

Hi Dennis,
I've been writing since I was 10, I never knew the art of writing, just went by instinct and wrote whatever I wanted. I topped the class with every creative writing essay/assignment.. I guess vain as I was, that got into my head.. I'm doing A/L English now, now I realise that there is so much more to writing that simply coming up with bizarre strings of ideas attached together. I was never good at factual essays and find it terribly difficult to put across my message. I enjoy writing short stories and suppose I will choose the short-story over the factual at the exam. Although, my writing isn't capital, I try not to make the same mistakes I made in the last story I wrote. What I find daunting is writing a short-story in approximately an hour. Do you have any advice for me?
Your blog has been extremely helpful, I've seen many of the loopholes in my stories by reading your article. Thank you so VERY much. You've put it across simply and interestingly without making it a bore to read. Thanks again. I hope to start serious writing sometime soon and this has really enlightened me. =)

Fred Chou said:

My deep appreciation to these truly helpful, fascinating and unreserved tips. I know very well, good creative writings all have their writers' own unique skills, I am also sure, your insight tips give the most likely guides to reach this destination in writing a good short story and a lot more. Respectively,

vernita said:

I am writing a short fiction story the main character is telling the story but I also have two friends in the story giving their prospective on things I need to know how do I go from writing from the main characters view to writing the secondary characters view. Do I use I when giving the friends prospective when they are talking and thinking?

I would say, look in great works of literature that include multiple points of view, and see which one works for you. Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wuthering Heights all use multiple narrators in different ways, and Huckleberry Finn always stays within Huck's perceptions, but Huck will summarize and quote from the stories he hears.

Vladimir said:

Thank you for the information,because I always want to write an awesome action story,the proper way.I am gonna be a 8th grader soon,so this piece of knowledge will benefit me in the long run to help me with my school work.

Abdul Khader said:

Hi Dennis,
I have just started writing and two short stories old.My style is the first person narrative and I normally share my stories to all my friends to know their opinions. The worst review I got from one friend is that She has some problems visualizing my characters when I repeat some words in the story(Even I get obsessed with some words and tend to repeat them again and again). All I want to know is how can I overcome it? Need your help in this

I am always happy to see evidence that this web page is sparking people's creativity and encouraging them to improve their writing. Abdul, the question you ask would depend completely on what is happening in your story, and what genre it is. See the comment I left for Secily Martinez on this page.

Shannon said:

Thank you so much for all the wonderful tips here! I just wrote my first short story for my blog (http://writetosee.wordpress.com/), and your tips were very helpful!

Lauressa Bradshaw said:

Thank you. The tips were very helpful.

Garrett C. said:

Hello Mr. Jerz

I write short fiction for fun as well as for school. I'm a freshman in high school and was wondering if there are any tips you have for a short fiction piece (I just got a book with short fiction in it).

Glad to hear from you, Garret. A novella is one form of short fiction that might have room for more background and maybe a subplot, but all the tips that apply to short stories would also apply to short fiction. Short stories are short fiction, after all.

Garrett C. said:

Thanks for the tip. I will eventually start to write online,on things such as wordpress or blogspot, and that will help to.

tambir said:

cool man

Garrett Carroll said:

Hello Mr. Jerz

Garrett again. i was thinking of taking a big step and preparing a short story for something, like a big leap with it. I was thinking of... Well... I was thinking of publishing it to a small or large market place, but i don't know if it's ready or not, any help for that? i've typed up like 10 stories after the last comment so yeah.

Critiquing is real work, and those who do it well put a lot of time into it -- time that they could be spending with their families, or on their own paid work. As a high school student, I wrote a fan letter to an author, who connected me to her editor; I paid this editor $25 to critique some of my stories, and it was definitely worth it.

My general suggestions are

1) Read a lot, in venues where you think you could be published. If you don't who is already publishing work similar to yours, then you haven't done enough reading.

2) See whether your local library or bookstore has a fiction-writing group -- or put up a notice and start one yourself. There are also many online communities of writers who form critiquing circles. (I'd be wary of any such sites that require you to pay, or that promise they will publish you.)

3) Consider taking a writing class at a local university, where you will get the instructor's full attention, as well as a classroom full of critiquing partners.

I'm always happy to hear from people who found these pages useful. Please let me know if this advice helps, too.

Kris said:

I am writing a shot story for english class. It has be be about a math nerd as the hero. My mother as the villian and it must take place in the timber behind my house. Any ideas?

Dennis Jerz said:

Kris, zombies are always good. As are robots and ninjas. And a love triangle. Gotta have one of those.

Sara Londo said:

I'm in a fiction and poetry class at school and I'm supposed to write a short story that focuses on setting and plot. I'm extremly stuck and all I can think of is Lost (the TV show). Any good brainstorming ideas? I need something where there will be conflict so preferably something taking place in a confined place.

hayli p. said:

hi
there is this writing contest that i really want to enter in, but i dont know what to write about. i need help. this topic helped me a little bit but i still need a subject, any suggestions?
i am 13 years old so nothing to fancy. please help?

hayli

Alex said:

I am making a story for my own interest. I alternate the -tense for every paragraph. For the past-tense paragraphs, they overlay the plot sortof, or continue the story, but it's sortof a mixture of 1st and 3rd person point of view.

Richard said:

I need some tips on how to describe scenes and things, here is an example of how I normally write stories, the instance here is the main character (called Rainy, his mother named him after the rain) is waking up in the morning and making up his mind on what to do. -

"Brilliant rays of sunlight entered Rainy's room through the window, announcing the beginning of another day. He woke up bored and wanted to go adventuring somewhere, he wanted some interesting thing to do in life. Therefore he made up his mind to explore Taverly since it would also help his team of knights to understand the place better."

Please give me tips on how to improve and all.
Thank you.


Mendrick said:

Thank so much ,you helped me so much. :)

Auburney Scott said:

imao......................

Rio said:

I writing a short story about a woman mad with unrequited love, I have a hard time developing the setting and the resolution, any tips?

Victoria said:

This website helped so much. Im currently working on a short story and thanks to this website, its turning out great. i will surly recomend this site to my freinds.

stuart msiska said:

i really like to share ideas about writing, and i find Dennis G. Jerz ideas a blessing.

it makes a future for young writers

Dennis G. Jerz said:

Credit where it's due. Kathy Kennedy is my co-author.

Stories Inc. said:

Thank you for this post, it is very useful for aspiring (short story and other) writers such as myself. I hadn't written short stories in many years, until I rolled into blogging as a way of improving my writing and started writing one to several a week.

One of the most difficult things in it, according to me at least, is getting well-developed characters in stories so short (5 pages max), that there is very little room for it.

There are some pretty handy tips in here that I hope will be very useful to me in the future and beneficial to my stories-to-come, thank you for that. I will certainly come back here once in a while and look over them again.

krish... said:

ot works.. really works.. thanx for the suggession :-)

Ashley said:

Hi, I entered a contest at my school for writing and i won 2nd place and i love love love writing stories and songs for fun and i want to write right now but i dont know what to write about please help

Congrats on your accomplishment, Ashley.

Whenever I feel the urge to write, but am stuck on a topic, I just set a timer for 20 minutes and write down idea after idea. Or I look for three random Wikipedia articles and try to come up with a plot that involves the subject of each article. Most of what I write will probably be worthless, but the point is to get those creative juices flowing. Fanfiction is another good way to get started, since someone else has already created the world and there are probably other fans who'd be willing to read your work. Take a famous scene and re-write it from another character's point of view. That house that Huck and Jim find floating down the river... whose house was it? What happened to the people who lived in it? Turn a comic villain into a tragic hero, or vice versa.

Mindsweeper said:

Aye, I say that the emergency tips at the beginning of the article saved me with my short story, I thank you a ton for that. Although it is due tomorrow, I still wanted it to be a well-done story, despite its subject. My short story has to be about a tablecloth and an apple, and it is due tomorrow for music class for our songwriting project. Really weird. Anyway, thanks so much for posting, I'll be using this for future story writing!

maggie said:

this is great--if you're having trouble starting. but what if you're done with your story???

If you are done, why would you need any tips? ;-)

Raghuveer said:

thank you for your kind information

emily said:

Hello, for a belonging creative writing story i was thinking about using the idea of facebook..but im not sure i will be able to make it very creative. Any ideas if this is a good idea? thankyou in advance for your help!

alec said:

wow!!!!! this site is verry helpful and i love it!

Cor said:

Hi I am writing a creative writing about belonging.
I want to write a story about an old guy whose home been washed away by the flood but his family remains safe with him.
He gets depressed and finds life meaningless as he has worked hard to get to where he is today.
After a long while, he reaches his epiphany when he attends his church friend family funeral. He realises that what he can never be replaced, ie, his loved ones, are still with him. Volunteerers have come to help him rebuilt his home. He discovers that whenever there is an end, there will always be a start.

I don't know how to start!!
Please help me!!

Once I came to short story in one line : 'He asked me my picture. I then gave him the mirror". Or even a poetic short allegory story " In the kingdom of animals a coup d'etat. The lion king was overthrown, and the weasel turned a president . Ministerial portfolios were assigned to reptiles and insects." I like such very simple but rich texts to tell as some types of short stories. A short story can be written in one line, but not any one line can make a short story . When I was a sophomore student in the department of English we studied Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea' within a course of short story!!. we should emphasize how short or how long a short story could be. Sometimes, it is very distressing to talk about techniques of the short story.The work of Art is boundless . Beethoven once said , "If my music doesn't follow rules , then let rules follow my music." Yes , you are true if you tell me that rules are not the same as techniques. However ,many of those tell us about techniques are somehow confused about distinction between rules and techniques . To conclude a short story is a condensed intelligent narrative text that a reader cannot expect how it starts nor how it ends.

Cor and MM, I like it when a story surprises me, when it doesn't deliver the ending I expected, when it withholds the ending I want, when it presents me with something even better than what I thought was coming.

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