It is a commonly held fallacy that short stories are somehow easier to write than novels – and certainly they’re, well, shorter. But that’s about it. A perfect piece of short fiction is as hard to achieve as a finely wrought item of jewellery. It demands precision, supreme control, and a good strong tale at its heart.
Here, to get you started, are five essential tips:
- Know every character in your story. What does each one of them want? What will they do in order to get it?
- Be ruthless. Make something happen to your main character that will put him or her to the test. This will help your reader to care about the outcome, which is vital.
- Make your opening as close as possible to the ending. Constricting the time frame can strengthen your tale.
- Write your story as though it’s a letter to a friend who shares your sensibilities – and your sense of humour. It’s a trick to make your story more engaging and to help with the flow.
- Every word counts; every sentence should advance the story. Don’t waste a single comma or distract your reader’s attention with an ill-conceived metaphor or an irrelevant piece of purple prose.