It’s not true that short stories are easier to write than novels. They’re certainly shorter but have equally complex demands. A perfect piece of short fiction is as hard to achieve as a finely wrought item of jewellery. It calls for precision, supreme control, and a good strong tale at its heart.
This is what I aim to foster during the regular Five Day Short Story courses I teach at the Faber Academy. Meanwhile, to get you started, here are five essential tips:
- Know every character in your story. What does each one of them want? What will they do in order to get it?
- Be ruthless. Make something happen to your main character that will put him or her to the test. This will help your reader to care about the outcome, which is vital.
- Make your opening as close as possible to the ending. Constricting the time frame can strengthen your tale.
- Write your story as though it’s a letter to a friend who shares your sensibilities – and your sense of humour. It’s a trick to make your story more engaging and to help with the flow.
- Every word counts; every sentence should advance the story. Don’t waste a single comma or distract your reader’s attention with an ill-conceived metaphor or an irrelevant piece of purple prose.