Over the past year or so, I have slowly been creating a list of advice pertaining to short stories, or rather, the writing of them. This has mainly been to help improve my own writing, but has also been a project of interest. They have mainly been gathered from advice articles, feedback/criticism from writing groups and editorial meetings and what I have found works from my own writing experience. Here I shall list four of them, more of which shall appear in the future.
1) Do have a small cast
Short stories have limited space and so should have a limited cast. This allows for the characters to be well-rounded without getting lost in the crowd. The read will find it easier to follow the story if it is not full of different names to remember.
2) Don’t change tenses half way through
This may seem obvious, but I have seen tense changes occur on a scaringly regular basis, with the writer alternating between two or more different tenses without a good reason. This is jarring for the reader and can be very confusing.
3) Do use description and dialogue
Description sets the scene while dialogue furthers the story while giving the reader a first-hand account of what the characters are really like. Used in conjunction, they can give a powerful rendition of the story you are trying to tell. Have too much of one, and you can find your story lacking.
4) Don’t be too ambiguous
Having people take different interpretations away from your story can be a good thing. However, make it too ambiguous and no-one will know quite what is going on. People will just be put off from reading any further. Be clear and make sure your story makes sense.
That’s it for now. You don’t have to agree with what I have written. These tips are mainly what I have found to work for me, and what I find annoying/good in a story. They have helped me improve my own writing.
If you have any tips, please leave them in the comment section. I would love to read them.