Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Short End Part II

Now that you've tried writing a short story from a memory of your life, it's time to add all the technicalities. The next time you write a short story, you'll have these in mind, plus the practice of writing short and you should find a huge improvement from one to the other.

  • Make sure your sentences are clear and written as concisely as possible. Your hook should be within the first few sentences, if not the first one.
  • Adverbs and Adjectives: If you look at my first ever 'book'(novella length story)every single verb had an adverb, every noun an adjective. I thought it looked literary. Highlight them in different color than your other edits. If you have more than two colors on each page, you have too much. (A general rule, which of course can be broken sometimes-though I try not to.)
  • Passive verbs and Gerunds: Those passive verbs. The ones that tell us the action rather than show it. They are easy to slip in and before you know it you have 'was' 'were' 'had been' everywhere. Yes, sometimes those verbs are necessary. Again highlight each one in a different color than your adverbs/adjectives and other edits. This gives you an immediate visual to go back and see which passives can be rearranged to be more active. The temptation is to use those ING words to cover up passive voices. That's another no-no. Be sure they aren't beginning every sentence. IE: Walking to the door, she.... Spinning in his chair, he flipped over....etc. etc.. 
  • Conflict. Every story must have conflict. Even short ones. And in every story, a character must overcome this conflict and perhaps show a change or growth of some sort by the end. The readers needs to feel that your main character is human, then courageous/independent/brave by the end. We all need someone to sympathize with and root for.
  • Characterization. The challenge in short stories is that your character's err.. character must be shown immediately and weaved in and out of the story with dialogue and reactions. Unlike a novel, you don't have the luxury of unfolding the traits of your main character slowly.
  • Do you have a distinct beginning, middle and end? That is crucial to any story, no matter how short or long. 
  • Does each conversation, scene, movement add to the forward motion of your story? Drive your plot home with words that count.
There is a new writing prompt at the top of my blog, feel free to use it-or any of them that I provided. Let me know if you like having that there or if it's just something else to scroll through. :0)


  1. This was EXCELLENT, Miss Kristi! You have to be Miss Kristi now because you're our teacher. I printed it out and will work on my project later in the week.

    The writing prompts are a great idea!

  2. PJ: You're so wonderful to me! :0) I'm so glad that this was helpful to you.

  3. Great advice :) I'm getting better at eliminating the passive voice in my first drafts, but it's still a challenge!


Your spotlight on R.A.W. :0) I strive to respond if you have your email address attached!