The Maker The Charles Causley Literary Blog
Picking up the Pen: A Step-by-Step Guide on Writing Your First Short Story
In celebration of world storytelling day (20th March), we have decided to help you novelist-newbies out by publishing an easy step-by-step guide on how to pen your first story. We believe that anyone has the ability to craft an amazing short story, and hopefully this handy guide will start you off in the right direction.
Step 1: Genre
SciFi, Romance or Crime; everyone has their own favourite genre. By streamlining what kind a story you want to write you can start setting the tone for your short novel. However, don’t feel your story needs to be defined by one single genre. Create a mashup! I’d certainly love to read a story about crime fighting aliens.
Step 2: Plot
Now it’s time to devise a plot. I’m sure you all remember the classic triangular story structures from your primary school days, peaking at the stories climax. While slightly juvenile, this method can give you a good starting point in how to neatly structure a short novel, giving you a definitive middle and end. It’s important when starting a short novel where you want to end up. What will your ending mean, what does is teach us and how will you get there?
Step 3: Characterisation
In order to keep a short story contained, make it simple! Keep the number of characters down and define singular key motivations for each of them, making sure they each serve the messages your short story is trying to connote. This will give your characters purpose and depth without taking up precious word count on long-winding and complicated backstories.
Step 4: Pace
When writing a short story, you want to make sure you hit the ground running. In order to complete an entire narrative structure within a defined word count your novel pace must be kept consistent. Don’t dilly dally on unnecessary dialogue. Make sure your dialogue adds to the story, revealing the relationships and motivations of characters, using it as a dramatic tool instead of a word count filler. The same goes for descriptive writing. While it is important to reference sights, sounds and smells in your short story, use it to set the emotional backdrop of scenes to keep up your short novels pace.
Step 5: Edit
One of the most consuming elements of writing a short novel is editing. While sometimes painful, it is sure to make your story better. While editing, remember the importance of showing not telling through your writing, making sure every sentence is critical to the overall themes and messages. Be cutthroat!
We hope this guide has helped you make your way towards short story greatness. Perhaps this article has even got you thinking about how you might celebrate World Storytelling Day this month.