How to write a short story in a week?
As such, there is no specific method or process that leads to the creation of a successful story. A short story or rather, any story is a fragment of one’s imagination and observation. It is a highly creative
To begin with, we will first understand what precisely a short story is. In literature, a story that ranges from 1 to 30 pages is called a short story. Anything above that till 100 pages are called a novella.
Today, we will discuss the technique and technical terms behind the creation of a short story. Hopefully, this will make your writing more organized and more uncomplicated. Before we discuss how to write a short story in a week, we will discuss how to write a short story.
The idea is to make sure that you are acquainted with the techniques. This will go a long way in helping you to learn how to write a short story.
If you are already aware of the process, then you can just use this as a checklist to make sure you have gotten everything right. And of course, even the experts sometimes forget the primary technicalities.
How to write a short story In A Week
We will begin with the step that will make it easier to remember the story that has formed in your head. Remember, an idea for a good story may hit you anytime and anywhere. So, you must take it down immediately. You are sure to forget it if you don’t write it down somewhere.
Takedown everything that comes to your mind. Jot anything from the names of the characters to metaphors and even dialogs. This goes a long way in crafting the story structure.
Do not decide upon the length of your story if you are not writing for any competition or magazine. Let the ideas flow free. If your narrative exceeds the word limit, we can cut out some parts. But if you are running short of content to write, we can add some descriptions.
2. Themes, genres, and backgrounds
This is an essential step in – how to write a short story. A short story can have one or more themes. But being a short piece, there is usually one dominant theme and other subtle themes. You can decide beforehand what subjects you want your story to tackle.
If you know your forte, you can quickly write in those genres. But this should not stop you from experimenting. You don’t even have to decide upon a genre beforehand. It is something that helps readers pick books according to their tastes. However, some genres enjoy more readers, while some are meant for specific readers.
The background is nothing but the setting of the story. It includes time, place, and context. When did the incident take place? During the day or at night? You can specify the month or year or even an era.
Then comes the place. Where did the story take place? The location can be anywhere from a small town to a whole different planet. It can even take place in imaginary destinations like Hogwarts or Macando. You will find several examples of imaginary towns and cities in various novels.
You should note that Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ does not have any definite time or place setting.
When it comes to characters, there is little scope for character development in a short story. In a novel, ‘round’ characters undergo changes as the plot progresses. While the ‘flat’ characters remain the same.
But in a short story, there is no space to develop characters much. Before you start writing, it will be convenient to have the names of the characters ready. You might want to use a specific name for the protagonist or you may even keep it simple.
The next step will be to describe your characters in a few sentences. It can be anything relevant to the story. You can note down a character’s height, hair color or a catchphrase. You also have to write down how the characters are related to each other and to the protagonist.
But always keep in mind, that short story is all about creative writing. You can go beyond the conventions and create something new.
The best example of giving a twist to character crafting would be Edgar Allan Poe. The famous author has penned some great gothic stories. And in his story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ he hasn’t named any of the characters.
4. Narrative and Perspective
Setting a narrative is important. We can call this ‘the eye’ through which you (and the readers) will approach the story.
The narration of the story can be done through a character who is in the story. In this, the reader will only know the thoughts and actions of the narrator. The thoughts of this narrator will affect how the readers will see other characters. The best example of this would be ‘Twilight’ by Stephanie Meyer. In these books, readers view the entire tale from Bella Swan’s eyes.
It can also be done via a character who is not a part of the story. For instance, the character will narrate an incident of which he is not a part of. Aesop’s Fables can be considered as the finest examples of this narrative.
Then there is the omnipresent point of view of writing. Here, the reader will be exposed to all the actions done by all the characters. The reader can also know what the characters are thinking and doing.
In some novels, you will often see that the chapters are written from different character’s points of view. For instance, the book series ‘Heroes of Olympus’ by Rick Riordan has seven main characters. Here, all the characters narrate the story and move the plot forward.
Here are some effective writing tips to lend a hand in the creation of your tale.
We saved the most important part of a story for the last. Obviously, a strong plot is what keeps the readers hooked till the end. Especially, in a short story, it is important to keep up a steady pace. There is no space for verbosity or unnecessary and redundant explanations and details.
Let us begin with the obvious question, what exactly is a plot? A plot is nothing but a series of events arranged in a coherent order that leads to a conclusion. Think of Gillian Flynn’s novels ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Sharp Objects.’ They would not be best sellers if it wasn’t for the robust plot.
The introduction of the story should be such that readers will be excited to read further. The start should create curiosity and gradually divulge the background and context.
Typically, there is some ‘action’ that leads up to the building up of ‘problems’ and tensions. These are ‘initiating actions’ or ‘rising action.’ These actions pique the interest of the readers. There are examples of stories that start off with climax and then uncover the rest in flashback.
Then, the rising action reaches a ‘peak’ where all the action is intense. And from there on, it subsides into conflict resolution and climax. This is the part where readers feel a sense of emancipation and satisfaction.
But again, you can break all the rules and create a masterpiece. You can leave the story off as a cliff hanger. You can even make it open-ended and leave the readers thinking about the thousand possible outcomes.
After how to write a short story, we come to the question- what to write about?
Now, since all the technical jargons are out of the way, there is one more vital question – where would you find ideas or prompts? Let me help you with that. If you are experiencing a writer’s block or you simply haven’t found ‘the’ idea, this might help you a little.
Here are some great short story ideas to help you out.
6.1 Target Audience
The very first thing that you should consider is your target audience. Who is likely to read your story? Whom do you want to address? For instance, if your target is young adults, you might want to write a ‘John Green’ story for them.
6.2 Social Issues
You can create a story that tackles contemporary social issues. Again, you can filter this by the audience you are targeting. If you are writing for teenagers, then you can write about drug abuse or bullying.
6.3 Social media
You can find a truckload of prompts here. You can see what is trending here and try to imagine some sort of situations related to it. There are a lot of pages on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram that post stuff about various thoughts or quotes.
This is a great method to employ if you want to write something contemporary. You can watch some YouTube videos on varied subjects. There are blogs and vlogs to help you out with writer’s block.
Now, this idea is only for reference. because sticking to a genre will just limit your thinking if you have no idea for writing your story. You can select a genre, read some notable books (or their summaries) for some inspiration.
For instance, if you want to create a story on magical realism, then you might want to refer to Murakami’s works.
Do not copy or create parodies of any works.
6.5 Personal experiences
Nothing better than describing and spicing up something that you have personally gone through. This especially comes handy when you are chasing deadlines.
You can also describe real life incidents that happened to your friends, family, or even classmates. You can mix two or more tall tales to create your little tale.
Many great authors possess this valuable skill. They observe people and their actions and quirks. This helps with crafting characters and describing them.
For example, you might know a colleague who likes keeping weird pets like squirrels or scorpions. You might add this to a character in your story. And this might even inspire a story.
Obviously, the more you read, the more your mind opens up to infinite ideas and possibilities. You can read some of your favorite books to get some kind of prompts.
6.8 Historical incidents, myths, and folklore
You can go a little back in time to look for some ideas. There are historical periods and incidents which might be set as a background for your story. This proves to be a great source of inspiration. It will also give you an idea of how to write a short story effectively.
For example, if you want your story to be set around the time of the Great Depression, then you will have to study a bit about the Depression to create that atmosphere in the story.
Then we go to the mythology and myths. Different cultures have different legends and heroes. And here, you can look up some mythical stories, mythological figures, and legends. An apt example of this would be the Percy Jackson book series.
Remember the vivid tales that your grandparents told you? The bedtime stories your parents narrated? It is time to look back at them for some motivation.
6.9 Dreams and nightmares
Nothing better than a blend of the fragments of your memories and imagination! Seriously, your dreams and nightmares can inspire some incredible magical realism stories.
Did you know? The idea for twilight came to Stephanie Meyer in a dream. If she can write four fat books based on her dreams, you can surely write a four-page tale.
By news, I mean the weird news that pops up out of nowhere (Florida memes, anyone?). There are also some pages on Facebook and Instagram that are made especially for fake and funny headlines. This can be some inspiration for a hilarious tale.
Then there are new innovations in technology, space research, and science. You can use these pieces of information to build a sci-fi tale or dystopian/utopian tale.
6.11Songs and poems
And this is a lifesaver. Poems and songs are abundantly stuffed with metaphors, fancy words, and outlandish ideas. The more you dissect a poem, the deeper it gets.
7. Examples of excellent short stories
No one knows better how to write a short story than the authors themselves!
You might want to look up to these excellent short stories to reach that level. There are some incredible short stories compiled in ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami. You can find more fantastic tales of Murakami in another book ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.’
O. Henry is known for his fabulous short stories. Most of his stories might have been a part of your academic studies. You can read some more for the plot structure and writing style. ‘The Last Leaf,’ ‘The Cop and the Anthem’, ‘The Gift of Magi’ are some of his finest tales.
If you wish to write a dark, gothic tale, then you should look up to Edgar Allan Poe for inspiration. He has been renowned for his creepy short tales. The Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart are some of his wonderful thrillers.
Some other notable short stories include –
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
A very old man with enormous wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Chrysanthemums by John Steinback
Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl
An Astrologer’s Day by R. K. Narayan
The list will go a long way, so here are some of the best short stories that will stay with you for a long time. These works will give you an idea of how to write a short story.
What is Flash Fiction? Read all about the emerging genre of flash fiction.
So, this was an article on ‘How To Write A Short Story in A Week’. With the right inspire-action, it is possible to complete a story with a few hours. The trick here is to start writing something and inspiration will follow.
Do you have any more ideas on how to write a short story in a week? If you do, share them with us in the comment section below.