On Wednesdays, I provide a writing prompt aimed at sparking a short story, with tips and advice included. Want them in your inbox? Subscribe now!
Write a story in which your characters go to a party
- Don’t tell the story of the whole party, focus on one incident. Build up to it let it act like the fulcrum in the middle of your story, and then get out.
- Really focus on the language that you choose. Try to be surprising. Allow your characters to speak in idiosyncratic ways. Make sure they also different from each other. I’m thinking of a story by Jamel Brinkley from the Best American Short Stories 2019 , where two women use the word bubble in weird ways that exclude the other characters but include the women in their own little world. Why not try something like this?
- Try picking one or two types of metaphor or image to use in this short story. See how many different ways you can play with that single image or concept.
- Try to write the complete story in one setting and then schedule some time later on to go through it and revise it a little bit.
- Now let’s think about your title. Is there an obvious theme that you could sum up in a phrase from popular culture? Can you steal a table from the popular song?
- Still thinking about your title, if that first idea doesn’t work, how about this? Look at the dead center of your story. I mean literally, the middle of the word count. Is there a line or a phrase right there that you could pick out and turn into an intriguing title? I often find that the midpoint of the story is a great place to find the heart. It’s something about the way we write. You get into the flow and you start to understand what the story is really about when you approach the middle or the point just after the middle. Look there for your title.
- This exercise will also also help you with your revisions. Once you have identified the theme or a phrase that you can use in your title, you can go back through the story and insert or strengthen these things throughout the whole story.
If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.
Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!
Do you have trouble with titles? Do they come naturally to you? Have any tips for everyone else? Leave a comment!
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