Short Story WritingThe essay provides the basics of short story writing for novices.

It’s the basics!  How many writers have made the errors of adding too many characters or too many plots in a short story? I have.  Sometimes our creative imaginations overcome our knowledge and we pour all of our ideas out at once. What results is a chaotic story with lots of loose ends.   That is often the mistake of aspiring short story writers.

Because a short story is a brief fictional or historical piece of literature,  it is very important to limit the size and content of the piece. How? Here are some important pointers for beginners.

First rule is to define your purpose. What is it that you want to say?  Do you want to create a surprize ending or do you want to expose a conflict in society?  Is your theme classic, like good vs. evil?  Or is it more personal? Are you writing about a person, maybe someone who inspired you? Or do you want to create a person to inject into a plot you’ve already developed?  Your purpose for writing is the single determining factor in how you proceed.

General second rule is to set a limited number of characters. You are not writing an epic novel with volume and space to develop and wrap-up twenty characters and side-characters. Having a manageable number of players allows the conversation, plot line, and character development to reach a conclusion.

Third, keep the plot concise without simplifying the story. The plot does not have to be intricate, but it must be skillfully designed because of the limited length.  This is the primary challenge of writing a short story.  You are not writing a children’s book, but don’t complicate the plot to an extent that it lengthens the story itself.  The story must reach its climax in its short span of time.

These are the basics when it comes to writing a short story. For most beginners, keeping the content ” short, but meaningful ” is sound advice. And remember, writing a short story is like watching your baby grow:  slow and consistent process.


Miss McCulla is a retired English teacher of 32 years.  She has mastery of the grammar and mechanics of English, and has taught expository composition, fiction writing, poetry, and rhetorical skills to thousands of students and aspiring writers throughout her career.  She has written/edited/self-published five books, and currently manages and edits the writing blog, The Underground Tutor, where she writes/gathers essays, articles, papers, profiles, criticisms, and analyses of literature, just like those asked of students and writers in the university and publishing houses.  Then she passes years of “teacher tips” and “general interest examples” on to interested writers.

March 15, 2019   36   mary    Writing Fiction  
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