Make your own free website on Tripod.com


Short Story or Long Scene?

I read a lot of short stories, and one of the most common issues I run across are those that think they're a story but are in reality a scene. An event happens to the main character and he deals with it, but he doesn't change.  Dying without change doesn't count.  Dying with a newly enlightened conscious does.

Writing a 'short short' story is a great exercise to improve your overall knowledge of writing. For one thing, you develop the ability to plot stories of all lengths. But when you think of writing a story that must begin, end, and include a conflict and resolution, all in 1000 words, you simply don’t have room for any unnecessary words.


This is an easy way to learn to identify extra clutter, and to understand why you don’t need it to make your story work.  While those extra details may add to the story, they don’t have to be there if word count matters - you can leave them out. You learn to identify wordiness that keeps your longer stories dull and slow, and you learn to find the single descriptive word that takes the place of five.  You learn to use those important opening lines to catch the readers attention.

Since you don’t have lots of words available to set up your problem and your setting -- don’t try.  Jump right into the climax-- the high point of the story. As the climax unrolls, you'll be able to let the readers figure out the problem and the reason our hero or heroine is there.


If the character is fighting for his life, do we need to know right now how he got there? No. Let him finish the fight and then let him tell us. Maybe he and the dragon have a conversation as they rest for a moment.  Maybe his agitated, incomplete thoughts are on what he will lose if he doesn't win the fight. (an opportunity to build tension and reader's involvement)


You can figure out a way to write ‘back story’ that would be the front part of a longer story.