I thought I could share a few of my tips that I've developed while writing short stories, and then I also thought I would share tips form other sources. Even though I like to think I'm always right, that's not the case 100% of the time (but shhhh, don't tell my husband).
My Short Story Tips:
- Find the balance: Short stories are often a little bit unneeded, or a missing a bit of detail or story. They are allowed to be a TINY bit vague or confusing, because they're different beasts than novels. (P.s. this is just my opinion. I don't need a short story to tell me every single detail. But there are likely others who will not agree with this point.)
- Make it plot driven: Start with an idea (usually I save my great ideas that just wouldn't work for full length) and run with it. Let the plot of your idea, however short or small, really drive the short story. You don't have much room to make your story matter, so let the plot reinforce every wordy you choose
- Be picky with word choice: To reiterate, you only have so much room in the length of your short story. So don't let any words go to waste. Unnecessary modifiers, adjectives, or adverbs should be removed. Sometimes we want to include these, even in abundance, and if that's your stylistic approach then don't let me stand in your way. But every time you read your short story consider every single word, every sentence, and as yourself, "Would my story change, be worse off, without this word?" If it can go, let it go, and use the short space you have for better words and ideas.
- Edit it a bajillion times: When you're submitting short stories there are only so many pages the editor has to read. They will notice every mistake, and there will be other writers submitting pieces without those mistakes. So don't let them slide. Edit, share your work for more edits, then edit some more. Be picky and be perfect.
- Be unique: Granted this goes with all writing. But I feel that a short story really needs this reminder too. Maybe this is jaded, but I often feel that it's easier to write a good short story than it is to crack out an entire novel that's great. You aren't plagued with a mundane middle, as worried about pace, and you don't have to answer every unanswered question you put out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying writing is ever easy, and I don't mean to say that anyone can write an amazing short story. But they are a different techniques to consider, and as it's shorter there's more opportunity for individuals to come up with short stories. So yours NEEDS to be special, wonderful, and totally unique.
- Have fun: This is always my tip with writing. If you hate it, others will too. Have fun with your idea, your characters, the dialogue, and maybe a crazy setting or plot. Make it interesting. Make yourself cringe or laugh out loud as you edit. Have fun with this little piece of the writing world.
- Finally, never stop writing them: Write short stories forever. Write them between novels. Write them when you are on your lunch break and you forgot to bring your book to read. Write them when you have an amazing idea. Use the ones you've written to turn into full length novels, if they are capable. Submit them, share them, but never stop writing short stories! They keep you fresh, they inspire motivation, and they are just awesome :)
Short Story Tips From Others:
- Tips from Huffington Post
- Tips from Writer's Digest
- Tips from Write101
- And 8 Tips from Kurt Vonnegut - as posted by Writing Classes