PLEASE NOTE: The September maximum word count is 1000 - The October contest maximum word count will be 1500

Friday, 21 August 2020

Helpful Tips on Writing Short Stories

When it comes to writing everybody is different. Personally, before I had been given an opportunity to write a short story, or even had any desire to write one, had anyone asked me what my perception was of this type of writing, I would respond that I thought it was probably quite easy - that it was certainly an easier mode of writing to pursue.

But in a couple years that changed and I now find myself eating my words. Having initially tried and failed to write a number of short stories, I then found myself attending various workshops and reading tips online to try to understand why I was failing so miserably at grasping this art. And so, through a lot of study and practice I slowly learnt that there is indeed a large amount of skill required when it comes to this genre of writing, and that patience with both the story and the pace at which the story is born are crucial to your success.

There are lots of reasons why short stories are hard to write:

Thinking it is easy- There is often an under-estimation of just how hard short stories are to write. Because of that most individuals approach it as an easy task and leads them to take on this art under-prepared. Just because it is a short story and not a novel does not mean it is an easier; in fact some might find writing short stories a harder task.

Lack of preparation-  Writing well is an art; it requires study and practice. Many people find it difficult to write a short story because they haven't spent sufficient time reading short works by other writers, or looking into the skills and techniques needed to grasp the crucial techniques. It just like doing a research paper in college, you aren’t going to start writing without any knowledge about your subject. If you are serious about writing then you need to spend time researching the art of writing before you dive headfirst into the action.

Jump into Action- Short stories are by default...short!! This means that you are limited in the number of words that you have available for setting the scene at the beginning of the piece, and so you must be brave and leap right into the action. For writers who are used to writing longer novellas or novels, this can be challenging. It takes some practice to condense your writing and clearly get the message across.

Use of Diction- Some short stories don't use any diction, but rely solely on the narrator to guide the reader through the story. Others use diction as the focus of the text, and this helps set the pace, action and tone of the piece. But with only a few hundred or thousand words at your disposal, the use of diction must to be perfect if it is going to work as the driving force throughout the story.

Use of Language- If you are writing a story that does not use diction as the driving force then you need to rely on descriptive language. But as with diction, the use of words and thus the use of time are limited significantly in a short story. Often individuals find it very difficult to write a short piece because they find it very hard to make every word of language count.

In conclusion this form of writing is not as simple as you may think but don’t give up hope. It is going to take research and practice but if you have a true love for writing then the outcome will be worth it.

(c) Heather Kraus