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Most writers need to get a quarter million clichés out of their systems before they hope to sell something.And they need to learn the difference between imitating their favorite writers and emulating their best techniques.Luckily, this form is an ideal medium for beginners, as well as those hoping to get back in the writing saddle.
As you might imagine, this is as crucial in a short story as it is in a novel. Tell your reader just enough to make her care about your main character, then get to the the problem, the quest, the challenge, the danger—whatever it is that drives your story. In a modern day version of the Prodigal Son, a character calls from a taxi and leaves a message that if he’s allowed to come home, his father should leave the front porch light on. The rest of the story is him telling the cabbie how deeply his life choices have hurt his family. When you’ve finished your story, the real work has just begun. Such publications cater to audiences who love stories written in their particular literary category.
So use the same basic approach: Plunge your character into terrible trouble from the get-go. You don’t have the space or time to flash back or cover a character’s entire backstory. Don’t spend a paragraph describing a winter morning. The story ends with the taxi pulling into view of his childhood home, only to find not only the porch light on, but also every light in the house and more out in the yard. We don’t even need to be shown the reunion, the embrace, the tears, the talk. If you can score with one of these, the editor will likely come back to you for more.
The other must pack an emotional wallop and tell a compelling story with a beginning, a middle, and an end—with about 2% of the number of words.
Naturally, that dramatically restricts your number of characters, scenes, and even by portraying a poignant incident that tell a story in itself and represents a bigger picture. Yes, it might get changed by editors, but it must grab their attention first.
Mastering even a few of the elements of fiction while learning the craft will prove to be quick wins for you as you gain momentum as a writer.
I don’t mean to imply that learning how to write a short story is easier than learning —only that as a neophyte you might find the process more manageable in smaller bites. Don’t make the mistake of referring to short nonfiction articles as short stories.In the publishing world, Is there really a market for a short story of 5,000 words (roughly 20 double-spaced manuscript pages)?Some publications and contests accept entries that long, but it’s easier and more common to sell a short story in the 1,500- to 3,000-word range. The most famous was Ernest Hemingway’s response to a bet that he couldn’t write fiction that short.Either way, writing a story is a great way to attract an audience.People love short stories because they’re quick to read, but can make a lasting impression, and even change how you see the world.You learn this genre by familiarizing yourself with the best. Watch, evaluate, analyze the experts, then try to emulate their work.Soon you’ll learn enough about how to write a short story that you can start developing your own style.They’ll want it to stand out to readers among a wide range of competing stories, and so do you. In a short story this can often be accomplished quickly, as long as it resounds with the reader and makes her nod.Once your title has pulled the reader in, how do you hold his interest? It can’t seem forced or contrived or feel as if the story has ended too soon.A lot of the .) Reading two or three dozen short stories should give you an idea of their structure and style.That should spur you to try one of your own while continuing to read dozens more.