Step-by-Step Short Stories

Hello everyone!

This post contains what I have learned over the past year about how to write and edit short stories. I also included a writing prompt so that you can practice creating a short story. I hope you enjoy and find the information useful!

Short Story Outline

In one of Catherine Jordan’s writing classes, she gave me a basic outline for how to write a short story. I have summarized the outline here:

  1. Establish Status Quo and Problem
  2. Goal/Quest
  3. First pressure/hindrance and the character’s response
  4. Second/More serious pressure/hindrance and the character’s response
  5. Third/Most serious pressure/hindrance and the character’s response
  6. Climax (This can be the third pressure/hindrance)
  7. Resolution

Writing Challenge

“If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.” – Ronald Reagan

Create a list of all the things a human being can do to help another human being. Then, choose one of those things. What problem is this action of love/service trying to rectify? Make this the problem your character wants to solve and your act of love/service be either the resolution or the character’s goal.

Now, make a list of things that could hinder your character from meeting his/her goal. Choose your favorite three hindrances and list them in order of severity. You now have steps 1-5 and maybe step 7.

Decide whether or not your third pressure/hindrance is going to be the climax of your short story.

Now that you have an outline, focus on your character. Why does he/she care about or have this problem? How old is your character? How much money, power, and influence does he/she have?

Once you know about your character, start writing. Follow your outline while creating the first draft. (If you get a better idea while writing the first draft, you may change your outline.)

Once you’ve finished the first draft, put it away for a few days. Then, edit it. Once you feel like it’s ready to show someone, ask the members of your critique group or friends you know will be honest with you to read your short story and give you feedback.

Informal Critiques and Editing

When your work is being critiqued, just listen. If the person is a good at evaluating writing, you probably won’t like everything they say. Thank the critiquer for their insight. Take time to think about what they said and make the changes which you feel will enhance your short story.

*Remember, it is easy to be too close to your own work. Readers will see issues that you as the writer will miss.

My rule for accepting feedback is:

  1. If the pre-reader was confused or had an unanswered question, I need to edit the text.
  2. If a suggested change would alter my theme, I do not make it. My theme is the reason I wrote the short story.
  3. If the feedback is word choice related, I check to see if I overuse the word the critiquer wants me to replace. Sometimes, I feel the new word is stronger and sometimes, it doesn’t hold true to my voice as a writer. I may still change the original word, but I might not use the one my beta reader suggested.

*Remember, writing is an art form. There are differences of opinions, but that doesn’t mean that either option is correct or incorrect. Often, they’re just different. You as the writer have to decide what is best for your piece.

*Remember, this advice is for how to handle an informal critique, not a critique from an editor.

When receiving an informal critique, always look for a grain of truth in each comment. Never attack or argue with the person giving you the critique. Listen, ask questions, and think about what they said. Then make changes or leave things as they were. Make sure any change you make or choose not to make is in the best interest of the story.

Happy writing!

Katie

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Flash Fiction

Hello everyone!

At one of the workshops I attended this past week at Bosler Memorial Library, the presenter, Kim Briggs (author of And Then He and Starr Fall), gave me some information about flash fiction.  I did not know very much about the genre, but she said that it can be good exposure for an author if his/her story gets published.

To this end, I have decided to pen a flash fiction piece.  At the very least, creating the story will help me hone my writing and editing skills.

Since I am new to the genre, I decided to look up what makes a good flash fiction story as well as to read other author’s narratives before I begin writing.  Below is some information about flash fiction which I found online.  I hope you find it helpful and that you too will be inspired to try something new.

“Flash Fiction: What’s It All About?” by Becky Tuch: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/flash-fiction-whats-it-all-about

“Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think” by Julie Duffy: http://storyaday.org/writing-flash-fiction/

Happy writing!

Katie

Occupied October

autumn-in-parkHello everyone!

A lot happens in October. The leaves change colors, people celebrate different holidays (Columbus Day, Yom Kippur, Halloween, etc.), and it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Your writing assignment is to write about autumn, October, or one of the October holidays. Here are a few suggestions to get the creative juices flowing.

  1. Poetry: Write a poem about this time or year or what this time of year or a related holiday means to you.
  2. Non-fiction: Write a book for children explaining a fall theme (e.g. Why do leaves change colors? What causes the seasons to change?).
  3. Non-fiction: Write a recipe or craft idea for adults.
  4. Fiction: Write a short story set during this time of year and relate the conflict to one of the October holidays.

Happy writing!

Katie

Children’s Books are NOT Child’s Play

public-domain-childrens-booksHello everyone!

If you have ever written or tried to write a children’s book, you know it’s harder than it sounds.  You have a limited word count in which to tell an engaging and original story.  Unless you are an author-illustrator, you have to write enough to inspire images while still leaving room for the illustrator to tell his/her own story.

The following posts helped me understand what is needed to create a strong picture book.  I hope you find them helpful as well!

“A Few Picture Books Basic” by Patrice “Pat” Sherman http://www.writingpicturebooksforchildren.com/a-few-picture-book-basics.html

“10 Tips for Writing Children’s Picture Books” by Alice Kuipers http://www.alicekuipers.com/10-tips-for-writing-childrens-picture-books/

“Types of Picture Books” by Pat Sherman http://www.writingpicturebooksforchildren.com/types-of-picture-books.html

“How To Develop Children Story Ideas and Create Picture Books” by Tara Lazar http://writetodone.com/six-best-tips-writing-childrens-picture-books/

Happy writing!

Katie

Change

Hello everyone!

Change is inevitable.  It can be welcome, painful, exciting, difficult, or a combination of sensations.  Change can be internal, external, or both.  It affects people directly and indirectly.

Your writing challenge is to write a poem, story, or book about change. Below are some pictures to get the creative juices flowing.

 

Happy writing!

Katie