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        Short stories: Do’s and don’ts

        • calenderJun 08, 2018
        • calender 5 min read

        Where else does the phrase “Less is more” fit more perfectly than in relation to short stories? Well, hundreds of other contexts in the modern world, yes! But the origins of the phrase can be drawn back to the golden era (mid-nineteenth century until 1917) of short stories. Anton Chekhov, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Roald Dahl were masters of the writing form who set the ground for others to write brilliant short story collections and singles.  

        You too can still do a lot more with fewer words to serve the attention deficit crowds hooked to all the visual content social media has to offer. Short stories remain popular and sought out as readers get to leaf through more stories, characters, emotions, and lessons in a shorter span of time.

        Writers, beginners, and experts have a lot to experiment with this medium. Authors have to be sharp, precise & succinct with their words and sharpen their storytelling technique which effectually improves their total writing skills.

        It has become easier than ever to make your short stories reach the masses with social media platforms, writing competitions and self-publishing.

        So, what does it take to craft a memorable short story? Take a look at the dos and don’ts of short story writing:

        The do’s of short stories

        1) Keep it short

        Duh. Thanks captain obvious!

        While this is self-evident, it needs to be emphasized. Unnecessary words and long descriptions are luxuries short story writers cannot afford. Try to maintain a swift flow of the story through to the end. It’s best if it is a short read within 30 mins.

        2) Have a single focus

        In full-length novels, writers can allow characters to change and develop as time passes. They can also have subplots. Characters, setting, atmosphere, action can all be developed in a novel. But in a short story, the focus is only on one of these aspects.  

        3) Limit the characters

        Only the most important characters deserve a place in short stories. Because only major characters have a place in short stories, that is introduced requires a description and background information. Adding an unnecessary character would only take away crucial time and space from the essential elements.

        4) Devices

        As mentioned already, this is a medium where writers get to experiment. If you have to, you could change the narrative style to something non-traditional. Like telling your story through a device. Think of letters, diary entries, emails, chats. Anything with which the readers are able to relate more and improve your plot.

        5) Surprise your readers

        Give them an ending that shocks them to the core. One that makes their reading time all worth it in the end. Shorts with sickly twists that make a harrowing finish remain memorable for ages.

        Don’ts of Short Story writing:

        1)Being verbose

        Elaborate descriptions for characters and setting, exhaustive information and details don’t have a place in any story, let alone racy short stories. Expand your vocabulary and feed your imagination with fewer words.

        2) Changing POV

        Wisely decide who tells the story and stick to that voice throughout the book. Making a change in the viewpoint would distort the narrative of the story. Choose between first person, third person or the narrator’s voice to tell your story.

        3) Sticking to the same genre or theme

        To compromise on the length and word count is mandatory for this form of storytelling. However, no need to cut short on experimentation. Short stories provide you the avenue to explore more of your skills and genres you haven’t written before. Readers also take delight in reading an array of genres in a short story collection.

        Remember these when you start writing your next short story. Check out this short story writing platform and a competition where you can submit your stories. You can always trust PaperTrue with proofreading and editing to make prize-winning short stories.   

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        Manish Linkedin

        Manish is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and the Founder of PaperTrue. His vision is to make impeccable English communication possible for everybody, so they can write effectively and gain the academic and professional success they deserve.

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