1. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    Some general short story advice?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Vagrant Tale, Jul 6, 2016.

    Today's the day I start writing my first of ten short stories! I'm giving a month to each one, and when I graduate school, I'll have all ten :)

    But I have a problem you see...I'm one of those people who really likes to study things. And everything I have is about writing novels, not short stories. Is there any huge differences I should have? What about the 3-act structure? I've been learning that and have decided to primarily use that until I've mastered it enough to explore other structures, but does the 3-act structure apply to short stories?

    Is there any general advice you guys could give me about short stories? I'm not opposed to short stories that are quite long, 20-50 pages will probably be my range.

    Thank you very much for any advice, opinions, or input you can give me, I really appreciate it
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've written a couple of short stories about real events that I thought were memorable. My other short stories have been like my novel, they started with an idea and just went where they wanted to go.

    If you're a planner, you'll probably need more than an idea and general direction. But if you write without planning, just start a story and see where it goes.

    Essentially they are much simpler than a novel, one story arc rather than many.
     
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  3. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    Perhaps just giving it a seat-of-the-pants start is the best plan overall, I hadn't considered it. I thought there was some formal structure I should study first, like I had with novels. I guess I'll just see what I come up with!
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm assuming you read a lot of short stories already, so keep doing that. Also, you should be thinking of story length in terms of word count, not page count. Depending on the market (and your definition of a short story), a story will be between 2000 and 7500 words.

    I think too much planning can get in the way of actual writing, so my advice is to sit down and just start writing.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, short stories require a much clearer sense of purpose. I'd disagree with @thirdwind, at least in my experience, regarding planning - I feel like with a novel I have the luxury of being able to wander a little and explore subplots and go where inspiration takes me, but with a short story? I feel like I need to have a really clear idea of where I'm going and how I'm going to get there, otherwise things sprawl.

    (I don't write that many short stories, so I'm far from an expert. Maybe I need more planning for them because my brain is tuned to the novel frequency and I have to force myself into another format. Not sure.)

    But, for me... I just follow the standard rising-tension-to-a-climax-then-denouement structure, without any further deliberate subdivisions. As I go I'll probably discover a few new mini-climaxes building to the big peak, but I need to know what the big peak is before I start writing.
     
  6. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Read a ton of short stories in the literary journals or magazines. This will really help you to get a feel for the short story. And I recommend a book that The Paris Review put out recently called Object Lessons. It's really great. Amazing short stories followed by essays. It really helped me.
     
  7. BruceA
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    BruceA Senior Member Supporter

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    Most of my short stories emerge as I am writing them. Sometimes I have a solid idea of what they are about before I start, but that is rare, for me. Usually I start with an image or a situation (or a prompt) and then the story develops from there. Using this approach it is necessary to edit a lot, and sometimes rewrite the whole thing, once you get to the end, to make sure it makes sense, and develops properly. As with all writing there is no 'right way' you will need to find what works for you.
     

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