How to start off writing a short story

How do you shorten the piece? Borrow a few tips from those who write narrative flash! Narrative flash is a very short nonfiction story, usually about one tiny moment of a big event. It contains the elements of good storytelling including a narrator, a setting, and a plot.

How to start off writing a short story

Share via Email David Gaffney: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian It's National Flash Fiction Day on Wednesday — the first one ever — and it's an exciting day for me and many others who specialise in this particular truncated form of prose. A few years ago, I published a book of flash fiction called Sawn-off Tales.

But until only a little while before that, I hadn't heard of flash fiction or micro-fiction or sudden fiction or short-short stories. Then, on poet Ian McMillan's recommendation, I parcelled up a manuscript made up entirely of this stuff and sent it to Salt Publishing, a poetry specialist.

Fifty-eight stories, each exactly words long. The odds were entirely against me. No one wants to publish short stories, least of all by an unknown.

And stories that took less time to read than to suppress a sneeze? I was chancing it, I knew. I began to produce these ultra-short stories — sawn-off tales, as I call them — when I was commuting from Manchester to Liverpool: But I had a book, as did most passengers.

One day while ruminating on the number of train journeys it took to read a novel, I began to wonder how long it would take to write one. I decided on words a trip — there and back was 1, words a day — taking just four months to reach a respectable novel length of 80, words.

So the next day I boarded the 8. But after a couple of weeks it was clear that the novel wasn't working. What I'd produced was a set of separate stories each around a 1, words long. I was about to ditch the idea when I heard about a new website called the Phone Book, which needed word stories to send out as text messages.

All that was needed was a bit of editing. Initially, as I hacked away at my over-stuffed paragraphs, watching the sentences I once loved hit the floor, I worried. It felt destructive, wielding the axe to my carefully sculpted texts; like demolishing a building from the inside, without it falling down on top of you.

Yet the results surprised me. The story could live much more cheaply than I'd realised, with little deterioration in lifestyle. Sure, it had been severely downsized, but it was all the better for it. There was more room to think, more space for the original idea to resonate, fewer unnecessary words to wade through.

The story had become a nimble, nippy little thing that could turn on a sixpence and accelerate quickly away.

how to start off writing a short story

And any tendencies to go all purple — if it sounds like writing, rewrite it, as Elmore Leonard said — were almost completely eliminated. By the time I got to Birchwood I had it down to words, by Warrington toat Widnes and as the train drew in to Liverpool Lime Street there it was — words, half a page of story; with a beginning, a middle and an end, with character development and descriptions, everything contained in a Polly Pocket world.

These stories, small as they were, had a huge appetite; little fat monsters that gobbled up ideas like chicken nuggets.

The habit of reducing text could get out of hand too; I once took away the last two sentences of a story and realised I had reduced it to a blank page. Luckily the Phone Book liked my stories and published them, and I continued to churn them out each day on the train, while the train guard announced the delays, the tea trolley rolled past, and a succession of passengers sat next to me, reading over my shoulder.

A week after sending the manuscript to Salt Publishing I got a call from Jen, their editor. They wanted to publish it, and quickly.

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All I needed was a quote for the cover, a photo for the sleeve, and we were off. I don't commute that route any longer — my new job covers the whole north west of England involving train trips to Blackpool, Lancaster, east Lancashire, west Cumbria and Cheshire, so my stories have grown quite a bit longer.

But last time I was on a train to Lime Street the guard's identity badge took me right back — because that's where I got the names for all of my characters. How to write flash fiction 1. Start in the middle.

You don't have time in this very short form to set scenes and build character. Don't use too many characters. You won't have time to describe your characters when you're writing ultra-short. Even a name may not be useful in a micro-story unless it conveys a lot of additional story information or saves you words elsewhere.

Make sure the ending isn't at the end.Suzannah Windsor is the founding/managing editor of and Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing..

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Fire, Geist, The Writer, Sou'wester, Anderbo, Grist, Saw Palm, Best of the Sand Hill Review, and kaja-net.comah is working on a novel and a collection of short stories, both of which have received funding from the Ontario.

If you’re starting out in short story writing and want a chance to win a competition, the best way to begin is by reading the previous winning stories so you can see what style the judges seem to prefer. Sep 29,  · How to Write a Short Suspense Story. By starwarsfan in Craft Art. 21, 1. Step 7: Start Writing.

It is now time to pick up your pen and start writing your first draft! When you start off your first chapter, make sure that you start with a sentence that hooks the reader.

A timed writing process designed to bring focus and intensity in short bursts. Excellent for those who are resistant or aversive to journal writing, or who are uncertain about how to start, or who state they do not have time to write journals.

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Thank you for this! Most people think that writing short stories is a piece of cake compared to writing a novel, and in some ways it is but for me it’s a lot harder to plan a short story than it is to plan a novel.

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