Write A Short Story in Three Easy Steps – Windy Lynn Harris

Short stories are fun to write, fast to compose (well, faster than books), and they get published every single day.

Today my guest is Windy Lynn Harris, author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide To Getting Your Work Published (Writer’s Digest Books, 2017)

Writing a short story is a worthy mission. Short stories are fun to write, fast to compose (well, faster than books), and they get published every single day. Here’s a quick guide to help you craft short stories like a pro.

Before we get started, let’s put ourselves in short story mode. Your goal when writing a short story is to deliver a satisfying narrative in a very small package. Short stories aren’t tiny novels. They rarely have any subplots at all. Instead, the action revolves around one main conflict. The theme is revealed through a character and his or her obstacles. Tension keeps the reader invested in the stakes all the way through to the resonant ending.

That might sound like a lot to manage all at once, but if you break the artistic process down to three steps, you’ll find your way to a satisfying story without wandering off the map. Continue reading “Write A Short Story in Three Easy Steps – Windy Lynn Harris”

096 – How To Make Flash Fiction…Flash

Flash fiction is more than just a collection of fewer than 1000 words. Flash fiction must…FLASH!

In this episode I talk about,

  • how to surprise your readers,
  • how to craft openings and endings to keep your story in your readers’ hearts,
  • how to use titles as the sizzle that sell your story to a reader

I also remind listeners that it’s almost time for the March SWAGr post, where we make our commitments for the coming month.

Another new episode of Write Every Day, Not “Some Day”

095 – Flash Fiction Part 1

February is the shortest month, so we’re focusing on the shortest of fiction: flash! 

(And, yes, I know there are shorter forms, but this is the particular short-short form I picked, ok?)

This week I talk about what flash is and why you might want to be writing it. Includes bonus trivia about Impressionism.

 

LINKS

Last week’s flash fiction writing prompt: https://storyaday.org/wow-make-it-flash/

The latest Reading Room review featuring flash fiction: https://storyaday.org/rr-meteor-mccolough/

This month’s Accountability Group post: https://storyaday.org/swagr-feb-2017/

Follow StoryADay on Twitter: @storyadaymay

 

Another new episode of Write Every Day, Not “Some Day”

Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think

What Is Flash Fiction?

There are, of course, as many definitions of Flash Fiction as there are writers.

Flash Fiction image

Continue reading “Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think”

Welcome to StoryADay 2016

Welcome to Week One!

This weeks’s theme: Limits

I know you’re excited. I know you want to get started on your great masterpiece. But setting that kind of pressure on yourself is the fastest way I know to a crippling case of writers block.

This week I’m going to impose limits on your writing that will make it almost impossible for you to write something great. This is my gift to you.

Continue reading “Welcome to StoryADay 2016”

[Write On Wednesday] Time Yourself

Today’s exercise is designed to help you see that you CAN write, even when you think you don’t have time. Take 30 minutes today to write a complete story. Here’s how…

Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. We must find ways to work in a time-crunch.

Today’s exercise is designed to help you see that you CAN write, even when you think you don’t have time.
time flies
The Prompt

Write A Story In 30 Minutes

Tips

  • Turn your phone off, mute your email, hang a sign on the door, put on huge silly headphones. Do whatever you need to do, carve out 30 minutes today to Just Write.
  • Use only 30 minutes, start to finish, brainstorming to ‘the end’.
  • Set a stopwatch. Take seven minutes to brainstorm. Think of a character. Give him/her a problem/desire. Pick a reason why solving this problem/achieving this desire causes them extreme heartache/peril (examples: Wesley loves Buttercup but is too poor to woo her. Becoming good for her means risking being murdered by pirates, a prince and a rodent of unusual size. A bookworm’s heart’s desire is simply to read, but his wife thinks its a waste of time so he can’t read at home; and his boss threatens to fire him if he catches him reading at work.)
  • Pick a good opening line that sums up the character and the problem. (“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” – J.D Salinger: The Catcher In The Rye)
  • You should be at about 10 minutes into your time now. Spend the next 15 minutes getting to the meat of the problem, throwing complications at your character, and having him start to try to resolve them. Fail at least once. (If it’s an interior kind of story, you can let that failure be ‘temptation to give up’)
  • Five minutes to go! At some point in the past 15 minutes your character should have started to tell you how the story should end. Tie up the last challenge you gave them and move immediately to the ending. Two sentences. Don’t worry about connecting the middle to the ending just yet. That’s what rewrites are for. Just write “[connecting stuff]” and move on to the end.
  • There. Didn’t that feel good?

What you have in front of you is likely not a complete short story. It’s a sketchy first draft. But it’s a sketchy first draft that moves. It has an interesting character. It has action. It has a sense that it’s going somewhere, and it has and ending.

Now you have a draft you can rework. Add a few lines to help clarify setting and description for the reader, if it’s that kind of story. Change some of your ‘info dump’ paragraphs to dialogue and move them to earlier/later in the story. Expand or delete details. Figure out your theme and how you can (subtly) strengthen it.

Do this, and I think you’ll have a pretty good story. All from taking 30 minutes to squeeze a little short story writing into your day.