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  1. bradbradallen

    bradbradallen Member

    Jan 26, 2009
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    First Steps in writing a Short Story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bradbradallen, Sep 19, 2012.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm finally putting an end to writers block. I forcibly elected to take a Creative Writing course at my University, and have a Short Story assignment due at the end of the Semester. I'm generally one who leaves things to the last minute, but there's no way I can leave a Short Story to the end of the Semester (2-3 months away).

    I don't really have much under my belt as a writer. I had a poem published a few years back, got about 20,000 words into a novella before running out of steam, and managed to finish my first (and last, to date) Short Story about 4 years ago. 4 years ago.

    The assignment is fairly simple: around 10 pages, but feel free to fluccuate from 5-15. Any content you want. In short, make it good.

    But it has been ages since I've written a short story, and almost a year since I've wrote anything of substance (One hell of a block I'm in). So I'm turning to you guys - I need help.

    What first steps would you consider I should take in writing a Short Story? Should I think of a catchy, eye-grabbing title? Think of a some sort of political point I want to make then spread outward from there? Should I use writing techniques such as webbing, etc. to formulate ideas?

    Oy, I'm lost.
  2. Jamie Regent-Villiers

    Jamie Regent-Villiers Member

    Sep 15, 2012
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    As you are already taking a Creative Writing course at your university and you have a short story assignment due, I'm assuming your lecturer must have at least gone over the basics of short story writing. In any event I would suggest...

    1) Find and read a few good short stories for a start.

    2) If you're really interested in writing then you should by now have learnt to carry a note book for when inspiration strikes, have collected ideas and know how to brainstorm. Try reading a newspaper to find a topic.

    3) I was taught that a good short story should consist of:

    *Introduction (Introduces characters, setting, time,weather, etc.)
    *Initiating Action (The point of a story that starts the rising action)
    *Rising Action (Events leading up to the climax/turning point)
    *Climax (The most intense point of the story/the turning point of the story)

    Now go write your story from start to finish because its your assignment.

  3. dreamkeeper

    dreamkeeper New Member

    May 24, 2012
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    Ah, get a piece of blank paper, doodle then you'll eventually get an idea which would be the basis of your plot. If you still don't have any idea, search the Web for plot generators or prompts. Lyrics from songs serve as prompts too. Since it is only a short story, one major conflict would do the trick. Identify that conflict that would make your story going. Fill up information sheets for your characters that would serve as your guide (age, race, occupation, physical appearance, character flaws, likes, dislikes etc.). Research setting of your story (when, where). Somewhere between these steps, the title would come to you. Don't worry, sometimes writers come up with a title after writing the whole story. Make an outline; from exposition to end. Or just go ahead then write. Write first, edit later.

    If you are still going nowhere, read threads here :)
  4. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Maybe think about what you'd like to write, and what you wouldn't - something exciting action packed, or something more dramatic,
    something romantic or something more genre related - sci-fi, space travel, other worlds, vampires, cowboy westerns. Maybe
    you have an interest you'd like to incorporate into the story. That could give you a character. Love to hike or play an instrument or
    play video games? Interests can be a good base as you already know about the stuff.

    Let your imagination turn over, and explore ideas. A lot of stories come from the 'what if' angle. What if you
    found your girlfriend cheating with your best friend. What if a western sheriff found his face misprinted on a wanted poster.

    I once noticed while driving a hedge separating two neighbors yards. One neighbor had trimmed his side, or should I say
    his half, as the top, half way in was also trimmed, while the other neighbor had let his half grow wild. I laughed and daydreamed
    who these people could be and their war over the hedge fence. Start observing things - and let your imagination spin
  5. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    I start with a character and a setting. Generally some situation arises that requires him to act. That's the germ of the story.

    One thing I've found is that I can only use small ideas for short stories - hardly anything happens, in other words. An idea of any complexity quickly grows into a novella or even a novel for me. When I took writing classes and was required to write short stories, I'd always start with something I thought was small enough, but it usually wasn't. I'd have to cut the size of the ideas down so that I could fit the story into less than, say, 4,000 words. Try reading some of Hemingway's short stories ("A Clean, Well-Lighted Place", "Hills Like White Elephants", for example) to see what I mean.

    Think of your short story as an opportunity to reveal character, not as an opportunity to unwind a complicated plot, and you're halfway there.
  6. jwatson

    jwatson Active Member

    Jul 16, 2009
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    I've had to write quite a few short stories for my uni program as well. I really enjoy the process. I tend to just start with a simple idea. Dive right in and write, and you will come up with something, or, you won't. Then, you pick another one. I think the best short stories I have written are all created due to the spontaneity upon which they are created. It's a lot more of a convincing voice telling the story.

    Things that really have worked for me:

    Use real people you know, like your friends.

    Comic relief suits short stories well, so if you have a funny story, tell it!

    And, locate the readers right off the bat. Use good verbs throughout. Edit it multiple times, leave it, come back to it and edit again. Good luck.
  7. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    1. find something to write with.
    2. Find something to write on.
    3. Start writing.

    You'll go back later to clean it up.
  8. Program

    Program Member

    Jun 6, 2012
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    Writing a Program
    You should start by taking a significant amount of time and thinking about something that is important to you. Hopefully the short story you are going to write will not be limited by a prompt.

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