Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing Tips- Short Stories

So let's get straight to the point.

I don't normally write short stories.

Short stories are hard for me. Want a novel? I can do that? Anything shorter that's not a poem? No.

Well for the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to come up with a short story idea for an anathology that a group of Inkies (on facebook) and a couple other non-Inkies (I think there's non-Inkie?) are putting together over June. Our theme is "life vs death".

"Pro-life" (aka stories are generally about anything pertaining to life or living) and "Pro-death" (not really. We mean that you write something about like ghosts or "what's its like to be dead".) are our teams although we have people doing both. I'm pro-life and my theme is "anti-self-harm".

Well all week I've been trying to come up with an idea that I could work for this. I had an idea and kinda messed around with it the other day and today. But then, a light bulb came on and I knew that my short story is going to be a scene that I want to write for Night Lies but probably won't make it into the story. Its more of a flashback and so far, Lieu's the only character to have flashbacks.

So it'll be interesting. The story takes place several years before Night Lies begins where Xander has just turned fourteen. (In Night Lies, he's seventeen on the verge of eighteen). Its going to be called The Edge of Nothingness. 

Here's some tips...
....I've discovered while researching how to write a short story (because novels are what I'm good at).
  • They usually focus on one important event. 
  • Its usually centered on one character or a few.  
  • They usually span a short period of time. 
  • They have a single plot (no subplots!)
  • Make sure your short story reads and sounds like a story and not a synopsis. (Thanks to one of my Inkie friends for this one).
  • There should be a complete beginning and end. 
  • No infodumps.
  • Tone down the descriptions. 
  • Don't rambling (rambling is for novels!)
  • Stick to one POV. 
Also, short stories can be any length from 1-20,000 (at 20,000 I think that's considered a novella). So remember, if you're rambling too much or your story is longer then you planned, you may have a novel on your hands. And that's okay.

Also, some short stories can be novels. I have one short story (that I might submit for the pro-death side) where I've gotten comments that the story could be expanded or even lengthened into a novel. I could see it, but maybe. But if I do ever want to turn it into a novel, it'll have to wait till I'm done with all my other projects. 


So, do you prefer writing short stories or novels? Which do you think is harder?



  1. Thanks for the advice.

    Short stories run until 7500 words I think. Novelettes run from 7500 to 17500 words. 17500 words to 40000 words is a novella and above that it's a novel.

    I definitely like novelettes/novellas more than novels but unfortunately, that's a no no for an unpublished author. I still write novelettes and novellas though.

  2. Your welcome!

    Ah, okay, well I wasn't really sure on what the WC range is exactly. I've seen it vary a lot.

    I don't think I've read many novelettes and novellas, although I would like to read more. It's cool I think you write those. :)


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