Short Story Point of
One of the first things you want to think about is what point of view would
work best for your story. If your story centers on one character's personal
journey, first person will allow you to show the main character's thoughts and
feelings without having to spend too much time demonstrating them through
Third person, the most common, can allow you to tell the story as an
outsider. A third person omniscient point of view gives the writer access to the
knowledge of all the characters' thoughts and motives, time, events, and
Third person limited has full knowledge of only one character and any
events tied to him.
Short Story Setting
The opening paragraphs of a short story should quickly depict the setting
of the story. The reader should know when and where the story is taking place.
Is it present day? The future? What time of year is it?
The social setting is also important to determine. Are the characters all
wealthy? Are they all women?
When describing the setting, think of the opening of a movie. The opening
scenes often span across a city or countryside then focus in on a point
involving the first scenes of action.
You could also this same descriptive tactic. For example, if your story
begins with a person standing in a large crowd, describe the area, then the
crowd, maybe the weather, the atmosphere (excited, scary, tense) and then bring
the focus into the individual.
Short Story Conflict
Once you develop the setting you must introduce the conflict or the rising
action. The conflict is the problem or challenge that the main character faces.
The issue itself is important, but the tension created is what creates reader
The tension in a story is one of the most important aspects; it's what
keeps the reader interested and wanting to know what will happen next.
To simply write, "Joe had to decide whether to go on his business trip or
stay home for his wife's birthday," lets the reader know there is a choice with
consequences but does not elicit much reader reaction.
To create tension you could describe the internal struggle Joe is having,
maybe he'll lose his job if he doesn't go, but his wife is really looking
forward to spending time with him on this particular birthday. Write the tension
that Joe is experiencing in his head.
Short Story Climax
Next should come the climax of the story. This will be the turning point
where a decision is made or change occurs. The reader should know the outcome of
the conflict and understand all the events leading up to the climax.
Be sure to time your climax so that it doesn't happen too late or too soon.
If done too soon, the reader will either not recognize it as the climax or
expect another twist. If done too late the reader might get bored before it
The last part of your story should resolve any questions left after the
climactic events take place. This could be an opportunity to see where the
characters end up sometime after the turning point or how they deal with the
changes that have occurred in and/or around themselves.
Once you get your story drafted into a semi-final form, try letting a peer
read it and give you some feedback. You will most likely find that you became so
involved in your story that you omitted some details.
Don't be afraid to take a little creative criticism. It will only make your