Key Steps + Advice for Writing Short Stories

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Short stories...we've all given it a go at least once, but if you haven't, these are some steps for why you should, and what to include when you do. In this post, I'll be going over the important steps in Short Story Writing, and some advice that you can use to make the story in your head come to life. Read on, and enjoy.

Step 1:

  • If you get the start of your story right, your reader will be hooked onto the rest of it. That means that you have to be careful and precise with your first couple of sentences.

  • You want them to entice the reader, and make them want to read the rest of the narrative.

  • Don't include history or factual information write away. Instead, opt for a dialogue line, or perhaps a sentence that captures your main character's personality. This gives the reader an idea of whos head they are in, which lens they're seeing the world from, and if it's worth reading on.

  • Remember to not keep the story slow-paced. Build up is good in novels, since they have the length and capacity for both character and plot development, however the same cannot be said for short stories. The key is to start off the story with explosives, and enough energy to keep the readers' eyes on the pages.

Step 2:

  • Develop your characters from the conflict present in your story. If your narrative has an exciting plot, the characters should exhibit the same energy, but also learn something from the environment they're in, and the people they're with. This has a huge advantage, which is that you won't overdo their role in the story, and you can set up their characters in the quickest way possible without wasting valuable words or story space.

Step 3:

  • Push your characters to the edge. If you've followed step 1 and 2, then this will be very effective in your short story. Pushing them to the edge will compliment the fast pace of your narrative and the conflict that you're trying to create. It will be done in double quick time, and your characters will reveal their personality to the reader instantly.


Now that we've talked about some key components, here is some advice that has personally helped me in short story writing and can potentially help you out too!

  1. Avoid approaching stories one at a time. The reason is because you may just end up writing the same short story forever. (The same advice applies for work-in-progresses, and I know this because I've recently gone through it. The way I got out of it was taking my imagination elsewhere, and clearing my head of the idea that has took control of my brain. Trust me, it may feel like your only story is your best one, but if you can write one good story, you can certainly write another one just as good and even better.)

  2. Adding on to the first point, Roberto Bolaño believes that writing three to five short stories at a time is best. But, be careful of writing two at a time. "The temptation to write short stories two at a time is just as dangerous as attempting to write them one at a time, and what's more, it's essentially like the interplay of lovers' mirrors, creating a double image that produces melancholy."

  3. Use story prompts to keep you going. It's easy to say that doing multiple short stories at a time is the best route to take, but how will the inspiration come? At times, we as authors hit a bit of a writing slump (I myself am very familiar with it *cries*) However, there is a way of escaping the rabbit hole of pain and torture. There are plenty of prompts you can find on Google, Pinterest, and Instagram (If you want specific ones, like royalty AU {Alternate Universe} prompts, or injuries/hospital starters, you can find them on my Instagram account—@hxneyscribbles!)

  4. Write dialogue first. Now it's common sense that no story can just be dialogue, but a writer doesn't have to write sequential. My advice for anyone hitting a slump is to write the interesting parts first and fill in the gaps later.

  5. Understand your characters' motivations. If you recall, a key component I mentioned earlier was character development, based on conflict. Well, in order for the character to actually develop, you need to understand who you're building from scratch and what their intentions are. If you're not sure yourself, there's a high probability that your readers won't know either.


Let me know if you have any experience with short stories and if this helped at all! I thought this was an interesting topic to touch on, and next week's post will be even better, so stay tuned for that! Make sure to check out my socials (you can find them at the top of the website!) and also enter your email to subscribe to my blog and receive updates when a new post gets published! I'll see you in the next post Honey Scribblers! Until next time <3


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