Tag Archives: short stories

Author Tip: Is Short Story Writing Something You Should Do?

Why Short Stories

You may not have considered short story writing before, but here are some reasons why you should. This article will also tell you how to go about crafting a short story.

Short stories are for everyone. They are fun and easy to read as well as easy to write. Short stories can be read in one or two sittings, they grip the reader’s attention and don’t let go until the end. They are popular. Remember all of those story ideas that just weren’t developed enough for that novel? These are perfect little critters to get you started writing short stories.

Maybe you are a new author just starting out trying to finish up that first great book. Or maybe you’re an experienced author working on a sequel or at best trying to dream one up. As a writer you need to keep busy and stay focused. Writing is a business, unless you truly believe you’ve only have just that one great one in you, you should be working on ways to expand your business of writing. Here are some reasons you should consider short story writing.

  • You will add more books to your brand.
  • You will improve your exposure.
  • You can write them fast.
  • You will improve your skills as a writer.
  • You will publish more often and have more books out there for consumers.
  • You have the potential to reach more people and make more money.
  • You will experience satisfaction from completing new works.

What Is Short Story Writing All About

What is a Short Story

A short story can be from 1500 words to 30,000.

JK-Rowlings-Phoenix-Plot-Outline

JK Rowling’s Phoenix Plot Outline

How to Develop a Short Story

First, you start with your idea. Now you take the idea and map it out with an outline. Don’t be too serious at first, let the idea guide you.

You develop your short story the same way you do a traditional manuscript. Flesh out your idea with an outline. Start by separating your idea into three acts, the beginning, middle, and end. Each act has a beginning, middle and end as well. These can be chapters. And each chapter has a beginning and middle and end. These can be scenes. By writing each chapter as it unfolds like the flow of a book, you have the power to keep your story strong and your readers engaged.

Story Outline

If you have trouble setting up your outline, the steps below are ones that I refer to and find helpful.

The First Act:

  1. The hook: the first page in the first chapter catches your reader’s attention and convinces them to read on.
  2. The inciting event: the first event that befalls in your story. This is what kicks everything off. What event starts the ball rolling in your stories plot?
  3. The key event: this is what drags your protagonist into the plot. Your character has to be pulled into the mess. This is where your character becomes officially engaged in your story.
  4. The first plot point: marks the end of the first act and the beginning of the second. This is where everything changes for your character. The first act sets up your characters ‘normal’ world and introduces the important characters, the settings, and describes the stakes. The first plot point should rock that normal world. Everything changes and your protagonist will be forced to start reaching to the new status quo.

The Second Act:

  1. The first half of the second act: Your character is going to spend the first half of the second half of the book in reaction mode. For the next quarter of the book your protagonist will be fighting to keep their head above the water.
  2. The midpoint: Your stories second major plot point. This is where everything changes again. But now your protagonist is prepared due to the last shake-up and is ready to start taking action rather than just reacting. This belongs smack in the middle of your story.
  3. The second half of the second act: After the midpoint your character is going to start going on the offensive. They are no longer willing to let the antagonist simply bring the fight to them. They will start implementing their own plans and throwing off their insecurities. This continues to three-quarters of the way through the book and the beginning of the third act.

The Third Act:

  1. The third plot point: this is your final major plot point that changes everything. Whatever happens here is going to force your character to a low place. They will have to analyze their actions and motivations and get down to the core of their own personal character arch. This is where they will start to identify their own destructive or ineffective mindsets and start rejecting the personal traits that have held them back up until now. Begins at the 75% mark.
  2. The climax: this is what it’s all about. Your climax is where your story finally gets down to business. This is the point of the whole story. This is where the conflict must finally be resolved. Although events will be heating up all the way through the third act, the Climax Proper won’t begin until around the 90% mark. The climactic moment itself won’t hit until the very end, perhaps a scene or two from the end of the book.
  3. The resolution: caps your story with finality. This important scene is the exhale to your climax’s inhale. Here you give readers the opportunity to see how your character will react to the events of the climax. How are they a different person than they were in the beginning? How has the world changed around them? How does their future look from here?

 

How Short Stories Can Boost Your Writing Career from the Creative Penn

Get into bookstores

Write short stories and publish them with companies who are already producing titles that you can find in bookstores. There are plenty of short story markets that are available at Barnes and Noble. To find them, simply go down to your local shop and ask about them. The assistant will happily direct you toward their magazine rack or anthologies.

Expand your presence on retail sites

Now that bookstores are digital, retail space is infinite. So how do you stand out in an infinite bookstore? By taking up the largest percentage of that bookstore as possible. The more room you take up, the more likely someone is to stumble onto your work.

Short stories can help fill out your presence on retailer websites. While a novel can take upwards of a year to publish from start to finish, short stories can be written, edited, and finished in a much shorter time frame; and with a smaller budget.

By publishing short stories alongside your longer work, you expand your presence on a retailer website, and thus come up more often in searches and on featured pages. This extra traffic will increase sales of your other titles

Fill in the gaps between novel releases

Novels are hard work. It can take months or sometimes years to get them right. The publishing process might have been majorly simplified by modern tools, but the writing process is still just as arduous as ever.

Short stories, by comparison, are simpler. Not easier, because writing a great short story is still a major challenge. But the process is much simpler. Writing short stories is similar to writing a single scene (or a few scenes) for a novel. Except, you don’t have to pay attention to an over-arching storyline.

Publishing short fiction while working on a novel is a great method to keep your audience reading your stuff and gives you something to promote while you work on your big project.

Experiment with new genres.

Short stories are a smaller commitment than a novel. You can write a short story in a new genre in a weekend and file it away if it doesn’t work. If you put the time in required to write a novel in a new genre, you might feel obligated to then publish it and put your full power behind it. That is a huge risk and most authors simply avoid it.

The risk involved with writing and publishing shorts is much lower. It is a medium that is open to experimentation. I find that a lot of writers are pigeon-holed into the genre they write and feel that if they wrote in other genres, they won’t find success. That is simply not true.

If you’ve never explored other genres and other mediums, you don’t know what will work for you. Especially if you haven’t found the success you’ve been looking for, experimentation with short stories is a great way to figure out what your readers want and to then follow it up with a novel.

Expand your universe.

In addition to all of the previously mentioned benefits to writing and publishing short fiction, the most interesting to me is to use short fiction to expand a fictional universe that you’ve already created.

I’m sure there have been tons of scenes that you’ve had to cut because they just didn’t work in your novel. Why not flesh those scenes out as short stories and put them up as companion pieces? Your readers want to know more about your characters. They already love them (or they should, right?). You can skip a lot of the backstory and reward your true fans with extra scenes that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.

An astonishingly small number of writers actually do this, less than 1%. You’re working hard to write your stories. Don’t just trash every scene that doesn’t fit. Re-purpose it as a supplemental short. Or write that scene that you’ve always wanted to write as a short and give your readers an extra taste of something different. Who knows, it might catch on and be the influence for you to write a new novel with a market-proven hook.

Short stories are a struggling form of writing when compared to novels. But they don’t have to be. Writers who approach writing short stories from a smarter perspective, one that uses insights from marketing and experience in the industry, can revive the short story. It happens one short at a time.

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Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

nature-trees-forest-wet-roads-1920x1200-wallpaper_www-wall321-com_57Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Challenge

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a storyteller so this will be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites. Or share your response to the writing challenge in the comments section below.
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writer’s prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments:-)

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Magical Morning by Kokoszkaa
Magical Morning by Kokoszkaa

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Challenge

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a storyteller so this will be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites. Or share your response to the writing challenge in the comments section below.
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writer’s prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments:-)

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Book-of-all-Book-4d586083c9985_hires

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writer’s Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME!
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writer’s prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments:-)

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Short Form Tale In Response To: Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

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The neighbor boy called and she left the house in a hurry to ride bikes around the neighborhood. She felt a nagging in the back of her mind the instant she saw his face that this would be the last time she spent time with him. She shook her head when the idea came to her, thinking she was weird. She peddled hard and raced him to the end of the lane and passing an elegant but rundown place that almost looked like a plantation house. She immediately sensed something dark lurking there and turned away. It was all she could seem to conjure in her mind since she saw the hand the night before. This place was taking a toll on her imagination and she hated the creeps it gave her.

She was certain after only a short part of the day had passed that she really didn’t like the boy much. At her age she was equipped enough to know a little about character and make a fairly clear judgement on his. He was demanding and rude, wanting everything his way. Penelope was clever and could turn most of their disagreements in her favor. It made him slightly short-tempered and he would decide he wanted to do something else almost immediately. But she remained friendly toward him despite his behavior because of the dull nagging.

They stopped into his house for lunch made by his mother. It was a nice gesture on her part and Penelope could tell that she spoiled him. They ate in his room where her suspicion of spoiling was confirmed. He must have had all the latest toys, she surmised, as she scanned the room. He even had an old Weeble Wobble, something you punched in the face and it would pop back up from the floor to punch again because of the way it was balanced on a round bottom. He had already gotten upset about something and stomped out of the room before they had finished their lunch. She could hear him complaining to his mother.

Like a child he ran to his mother , she didn’t really even know what had made him upset until she heard his whiny voice complaining about his sandwich. She was about thoroughly disgusted with him at this point. But the nagging was there, reminding her to play nice, like she owed it to him. She was starting to wonder if she was going crazy, the world was just turning upside down with all of the recent events and the ideas that were running through her mind just weren’t normal. She had to actually try to come off as a regular girl, not that it mattered to this spoiled boy she was somehow compelled to be around today.

When he stomped back into the room he was short of breath. It was then that she decided she would just let him win because she strangely believed that today was his last and final day. This made her feel bad for him, whether it was true or not, it had set her mood. She sensed that he somehow saw his coming demise and decided that his attitude stemmed from the knowing, it made it easier for her to put up with him. They played video games for the rest of the afternoon and it surprised her that she had managed to stay around him that long. She noticed his anxiety creeping in toward the end of the day and wondered if he was tuned in to what she was feeling and thinking. Whatever the case she felt it was her responsibility to be with him today, up until he no longer allowed it she had decided.

His name was Adam, and it was bouncing from side to side in her mind now that she thought of it, leaving a trailing echo as it went. She noticed how his mouth twisted a little when he dropped to the beanbag chair and grabbed for his game controller. She wondered what he thought about right now in this moment, if he knew that it was precious time he was wasting. If today truly was to be his last day, what were to be the last of his thoughts. Considering him this way, just as a boy, a regular boy, pulled her into a sad and sympathetic place. She didn’t really know him, know what he liked, what caused him pain, what brought him joy. She felt like a heel for her earlier thoughts and held on to this communion she now found herself in.

She felt so awkward. Why was she here and thinking these things? Why did she have to start getting weird all of a sudden? Why was she seeing ghosts and what was this new-found fascination with death? None of it made any sense to her and none of the experiences she was having were pleasant. She wished hard for these things to go away, but the universe had a gift to give and she doubted she could stop it. It felt mostly bad, except for right now, hanging out with Adam.

Even though he was not someone she could easily get along with, she felt closer to him than any other friend she had ever made, whether she liked him or not. It was because she felt like she had crawled inside him, she was occupying that space and was becoming privy to his thoughts and feelings. She was getting to know him better than she had known anyone before and it was sincerity that she felt for him through this connection, tinged with hope for what he would find after death took hold of him. It was strange to say the least, but that was all just crazy thinking, she surely had to be making it all up. She had spent her day and couldn’t escape the grip of where her thoughts had led her, and were leading her still.

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Published by: M.R. Goodhew

Michelle Rene has been involved in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an author, designer, and illustrator. She is an Indie Author Advocate who volunteers her time to give back to the Indie Author Community by offering her design services four times a year, free of charge.

As an author of nonfiction, Michelle Rene writes books that serve to assist the independent author in developing their platform, discovering their brand, and creating the right look that will draw readers to them. She discusses how to navigate social media and addresses marketing tactics. For the author who sets up their web presence independently and does not wish to hire a designer, her books offer a wealth of start-up information, graphic design templates, and give crucial insight to the designers thought process which assists in the creation and design of the author’s platform.

Michelle Rene also writes fiction which falls under several genres, including: Fantasy, Drama, Young-Adult Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller. She is currently working on a series of novels whose main theme involves the mysteries of death and the afterlife.

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