It’s no use coming up with a theme and not using it. Short stories are about a character or characters and about one situation or happening in those characters’ lives.
By concentrating on that one thing, our stories are focused. You will need to focus to maintain a level of intensity and sticking to the theme enables us to do that.
Let me give you an example…
Let’s say your story is about a young man (main character) who is being harassed (one situation) by the school bully (secondary character.) Let’s place the setting in grade school.
Now if we focus on that single happening and in our story say….
•What started the bullying
•What the main character felt, confronted with this problem
•What the main character did to overcome this problem
•If the main character won or lost against the bully…
Then we’ll be focusing only on that incident which is what our story is about.
Now if we took that situation further and in our story said that this character grew up and was bullied in high school and then later by a colleague…
That will be listing three incidences, which will weaken our story because we are not focusing.
Remember a short story is short.
We don’t have too much leeway to develop too many things so we have to be selective with what we choose to concentrate on. Short stories work best when they span over a short period of time.
Like in scenario one, this incident might span over a couple of days or a week, where in the second scenario, it spans over a number of years. The shorter the time span the more intense the story.
Your theme should begin at the beginning, run through the middle and conclude in the end. So let’s put a theme to the first scenario…
‘Strength Comes From Within And In The End Prevails.’
How can I have this theme running throughout my story?
Initially I will portray my main character as a weak individual. But I will excuse his weakness, by saying perhaps that…
“He comes from a closely knit, loving family and initially doesn’t know how to deal with such a conflict.”
As my story progresses, I will gradually show his inner strength and I will do this through incidences, which will show his maturity, like…
•He helps out by caring for his younger siblings and contributes with the housework.
•I can show him cutting the neighbours’ lawns or delivering newspapers before school to show that he contributes economically too.
If I do this, my ending (when he wins against the bully) will be believable because I have developed his inner strength. My theme would have run its course.
(c) Nick Vernon
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories. Visit.
Is writing a novel something you’ve always wanted to do? Do you not have the faith in yourself to finish it? It’s very common amongst budding writers but is easily cured. A good way to start is by writing a short story rather than going straight into a full length novel.
When you start writing your short story you may find that it ends up being more of a full length novel but it’s a good place to start. Short stories are also a good way to get your profile started – short fiction is often published in magazines. Short stories is definitely the way to start your writing career and it will probably give you the confidence to tackle a full length novel before you know it!
Short fiction is based purely on the word count of your story and is therefore structured quite differently. For a full length novel or story you have plenty of time to reach the crux of your story but when writing short fiction you need to get to your climax as soon as possible and then work in the background around it. Readers are nearly always hooked straight away and you can then bring all the parts of your story together as the rest of your story is written. This is a way of writing used by many short fiction writers and is certainly a great place for you to start.
Once you have written what you want to say put it away for a day or two. Go back to it with a hammer and smash out every word not needed. Start taking out the word "that" and carry on from there. You have to be ruthless. You cannot afford to fall in love with every word or sentence. You will end up with a crisper story.
There is another form of short story writing which is a brand of storytelling using 6 word sentences. Writers who write this form of story telling take their work very seriously and strive to make their work exactly ‘short’! It is a form of storytelling not suited to most people and is not really a good place to start. You should however make sure that you keep your short fiction just that...short! Don’t waffle on and on and end up with something in the middle of a short fiction story and a novel! The number one priority for you is to keep your readers interested.
When you have made a start it may be difficult to keep your work to a short or moderate size. If you find you are able to write so much additional information and have so much detail to add it may be that you just carry on and write that novel after all!
(c) Barry Sheppard
Publishing pro and author/filmmaker Barry Sheppard has written and published many books with hundreds of reviews in newspapers, TV and radio. He is now concentrating on eBook writing/publishing and starting his own television station.
Many new writers are afraid of opening up and letting people know what they're like inside. They're nervous of allowing readers access to what they think and believe. They don't want people to see inside of them because they're afraid of criticism and ridicule.
How do you defeat this debilitating condition? Because, really,that's what it is.
In reality nobody important is going to attack you or your writing.
Even if they do, what does it matter? Critics display much more about their own failings when they attack others.
You need to get over any insecurities about the way you express yourself and find the strength to be honest, at least in your writing.
The fact is your writing will never truly soar unless you have the courage to let it all out and 'expose yourself' to the world.
Seriously, you will only ever be seen as 'original' if you learn to be open and honest in your writing. Your own slant on the world is what makes you interesting. It's your individual sense of logic that makes your writing unique.
It's too easy to fall back on conventional wisdom and have viewpoints that you already know are accepted and lauded. But if you're simply trotting out standard thinking on issues, you're not adding anything of value to the world.
You need to trust your own instincts - and write from the heart, whatever the consequences, most of which are imaginary anyway.
Here are a few tips on how to get used to being truly honest in your writing:
1. Write about the worst thing that's happened to you
Get it all out, every feeling, however low, every nuance of how it went down, who was to blame and how much you hate the people or events that caused it to happen.
2. Write about the most horrible thing you've ever done
It's easy for us to write about nice things and the good in ourselves but we hide from our other, darker side. No more - write down the most nasty vicious things you've ever thought or done. Don't be afraid, you don't have to show them to anyone - but you do need to purge those demons and get them out on paper.
3. List your crimes / sins in detail
All of us are a mess of good and bad. The facade we present to the world is an amalgam of what we want others to see. We all have bad thoughts and evil moments - it's how we deal with them that makes us who we are. Get it all out in the open.
4. Name your enemies and describe them
Really try to get inside the people you don't like - describe their physical appearance but also try to imagine how their minds work -and what they think about - especially about you.
5. Write about your embarrassing habits
Leave no stone unturned. No matter how bad, write about the things you wouldn't mention to a soul. Write down exactly what it is you enjoy - or hate - about those private little things you do when nobody's looking.
6. Write about your secret prejudices
We all have them - thoughts and notions that we know are not quite politically correct or acceptable, even to ourselves sometimes. But get them down on paper, explore your logic behind them and how they shape your more conventional notions.
Why Do This?
This process of getting everything out on paper is cathartic. You'll feel lighter inside after you've done some of the above exercises. You'll realize that you've been carrying around a lot of your dark side as baggage.
And that simply letting go on paper can really help you center yourself and free your mind.
Plus, you'll have taught yourself that 'exposing' yourself on paper is not quite as hard as you'd imagined. There may even be some great pieces of writing there, important pieces that you can later rework.
But most of all, you'll have gotten used to being objective about your thoughts and emotions. This new perspective will enable you to approach your writing with renewed energy and conviction.
And a determination to be more honest and forthright.
And become a better writer.
(c) Rob Parnell
Let me start by saying, humor that is hurtful or at the expense of other writers has no place in the writing industry. Board fights and flame wars do not belong in the writing community. This should be about writing. Online writing communities have become a cutthroat, often uncaring part of cyber world.
In order to succeed in writing, I've always believed that we must come together and help each other. I do not understand the attitude many writers have adopted of stabbing their fellow writer in the back.
I've always looked at the other writing communities and other writers out there as a part of my community, rather than competitors. I don't pretend to know everything and though I run a writing community; I'm still learning like many of you. It is sad though that many writers don't share the same opinions as me. They would rather compete than bridge together. Am I the only voice saying," As a writers it is time we bridge together as one?" “It is time that we helped one another."
Some may be looking at our community of writers and thinking," I'm not going to join Today's Woman because it's too cutthroat and it won't be a community." “It will be like the rest that I have joined.” Well you are wrong because we are a community. The more I look at the bickering and flame wars on some of the other writing communities, I have found Today’s Woman writing community to be very supportive. We're like a big happy family as opposed to some of the other communities, which are cutthroat and competitive or filled with trolls and writers insulting their fellow writers.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that we don't have some exceptionally warm, caring, and professional people who choose to submit their content to Todays-Woman.net. Most importantly don't let anyone tell you that you can not write. I've enjoyed working with and getting to know the members within my community , as well as so many others in the writing industry. Over the past two months I have met more authors and writers with simply no values or no morals. I have seen writing communities that were suppose to be there to help writers become infested with bickering, name calling and flame wars.
Don't let your career go down in flames. The reason is that your reputation speaks for you and you never have to badmouth anyone in order to make yourself look better. The way you carry yourself speaks volumes. Don't put your reputation on the line by getting into flame wars. I have learned that in writing your credibility is everything. I also want to thank my husband who gave me an important bit of advice he said, “They are critiquing you not because there was anything wrong with your writing but it was because you wrote it." As a writer we should never second guess our writing because of what someone said. Professional writers will help you improve your writing not make fun of your writing.
Also don't ever belittle another writer to save your own behind. Recently I had the members of a well known writing community email another website, regarding one of my articles . They sent 43 complaints so that the editor of the website would remove it. One of the letters stated," The article contained many typos, and I didn't feel the author communicated her ideas very clearly." When I received wind of this I contacted the editor of the website and she replied, “But I did receive no less than forty-three (43) emails complaining about the spelling errors and the grammatical problems. That's much higher than we are used to dealing with." "We generally don't receive complaint emails." “The members in the forum you pointed me to are now criticizing me and the quality of my sites." That should have been her first clue that this was nothing more than a witch hunt to get my article removed. Therefore she fed me to the witches instead of supporting me as a writer.
One of my own members recently submitted an article to me that had a few spelling and grammar errors. He and I worked together to improve the errors in his article. The article was very well written I might add. However that is what we do as writers, we help one another. Would it not of been better for that editor to point out that I had errors in my article and they would need to be fixed before she could publish it on her website?
To be a successful writer you need three things: Belief in yourself, a strong backbone and a good reputation. You can be the greatest writer ever but if you are in the market for backstabbing and getting into flame wars on message boards, then you might as well put up your notebook and pen and join a chat room. There you can let your fingers run aimlessly over the keyboard as much as you like.
I have gotten into enough flame wars on message boards defending my website reputation and my writing. I shouldn't need to defend my writing to anyone and neither should you. I realize that spelling and grammar may not be one of my best qualities however that is why we have editors. I appreciate nothing more than someone coming to me and pointing out in a polite manner that I have a spelling or grammar mistake. This way I may improve on the quality of my next article.
This is a cutthroat world and there are going to be those that tell you that you can't write and that your publishing company is a joke and they will take your most compassionate poem and make it resembles something they would wipe their butt with. I have learned you need one tough back bone in this cutthroat industry. I also have learned that the ones doing the insulting have no more of a reputation than you in this industry. They have gone with pod publishers or have never been published outside of the web or made some bad career choices regarding who they published with.
In closing some advice, you need to tell yourself "I am a writer first and foremost and I'll be damned if I ever let anyone tell me different." To the 43 writers who felt it necessary to poke fun at some serious articles that I wrote all I can say is poke away. Some of those articles were on some serious issues, like keeping your child safe on the internet. While you are only questioning my grammar, spelling and the structure of my sentences; someone is reading my article and taking my important advice to heart. That same advice might just save their child's life. Belittle away if it makes you feel better. I write because I love to write and I have something to say. If you don't like what I have to say, don't read it.
(c) Rose DesRochers
Rose is a published author and web columnist.
Many new writers get themselves into a pickle with character creation. They seem to regard it as some mysterious black art that might be beyond them.
Either that or they fall in love with the process of creating three dimensional characters - to the detriment of their writing time.
There are three ways to approach character creation, all equally valid, as long as you don't obsess over them - or get so bogged down in the processes you forget the bigger picture.
Characters are a means to an end. The story is what matters. Yes, you want characters that your reader will love or at least identify with - but without a story, a character is just an idea, an empty vessel that can do nothing outside of context.
No amount of description of a character - whether they're 'deep' or 'rounded' or 'sympathetic' - means anything much until you can see them in action, as it were.
You start with a simple outline of an imaginary person, with certain characteristics:
1. Gender /Age
2. Profession / Calling
3. Location / Environment
4. Agenda (what they truly want)
5. Finally, a name.
That's it. This can be a good starting place for any story. You don't have to go into too much more detail, unless you really want to, which I know many writers do. Perhaps because they just get off on it!
But remember that the more you flesh out a character before you start writing, the fewer plot turns you will have access to. This is because stories are essentially character driven. Therefore, if you have a strong three dimensional character set in stone, there are only so many convincing plot options you can apply to your character's personality.
In effect, it's harder to make a overly developed character 'fit' into your plot if they always react in a specific pre-determined way - that is, determined by you - too early on in the writing process.
Many writers start with a sketchy idea of a hero then brainstorm the possible plot permutations a story might take depending on the personality of the character. This is good.
You might find after the brainstorming process the character, her motivations, foibles and agenda can be enhanced to better reflect - that is, make more believable - the twists and turns of the story.
This is a common process in screenwriting. Once you have the entire story down, you go back and tweak the character to make them entirely consistent in their actions, reactions and general 'raison d'etre.'
It's an important process in movie making because an expensive actor will be the first one to say, "I'm sorry, I wouldn't do that." Not something the average Hollywood director wants to have to deal with when shooting a film costing $1000 a second!
But character consistency is just as important in your novels and short stories because you never want you reader to feel that your hero does something 'out of character' and is therefore unbelievable.
You start with nothing much decided.
You start writing and let the character and his / her personality, agendas and even his/her name and appearance come to you over time.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach - many writers do it, including the likes of Stephen King - so it can't be at all bad.
The main problem with this approach is that it can lead to a lot of editing and reworking of a story - especially a novel - after you've written it. And if you've ever had to 'fix' a hero in a novel, you'll know that rewriting this kind of character can take way longer than you spent on writing the novel in the first place!
So you need to be careful you don't make your writing life too hard!
Clearly, a sensible combination of the above approaches is what is required, depending on the project and the needs of a particular story.
I know that some writing instructors like to perpetuate the myth that character creation is complicated and laborious. They might suggest pages of notes or an 'interview' with your hero that takes days to complete.
I've seen writers show me ridiculously complex bubble graphs of inter-relating characteristics and infinite permutations of possibilities based on the (largely false) premise that the 'deeper' and more 'human' the fictional personality, the more credible he/she becomes.
The fact is, your fictional characters will never be 'real' in the sense of 'human'. That's not their purpose.
Real people are such a mess of conflicting emotions, agendas and often diametrically opposed points of view that they cannot possibly make good models for fictional characters.
Over development of fictional characters can often become a largely self indulgent exercise that serves little beneficial purpose. Better to focus on the needs of your readers - who prefer clearly definable heroes and supporting characters that propel the plot rather than bog it down with unnecessary - and often confusing - detail.
And keep it simple.
Develop where necessary - to uncover the 'truth' about a character for instance.
But don't over complicate things, my friend. Not just for the sake of it, anyway.
You need your precious writing time to be productive!
(c) Rob Parnell