Like most people who frequent sites like CIAO.com, Dooyoo.co.uk and other opinion sites, I am an aspiring author. Throughout the years I have written many short stories, and although I haven’t been published for money yet , I have written some well received stories that people have enjoyed. Although I am by no means an expert I feel I can give some advice from the years of trial and error.
Grammar and spelling
Although you could write an excellent short story, you will often lose your audience because of bad spelling and poor grammar. At the first instance, use a word processor to check your spelling and grammar. Then continually read, and re-read your story ensuring that it reads well and is grammatically correct. Additionally, and perhaps one of the hardest lessons I found to learn is to try and write without switching tense. Generally stories are written in past tense, but sometimes they are written in first person present tense. Switching between tenses will confuse and often lose you a reader.
There is no set formula as to how long a story should be; I have written several one-page stories that deliver a message and also have written 4000 word stories. The main thing is to ensure that the story is complete and that it conveys the message you want it to convey. In essence, you may ask yourself ‘How long is a piece of string’? the answer is ‘As long as it needs to be’.
There are no guidelines to what your story should contain. It is your story and as such can contain whatever you want it to. However, you may want to think about the audience you are aiming at and tailor your content and writing for that audience. For instance, if you are writing a children’s story then you won’t want graphic violence and sex in it.
My best advice is to try and make your characters believable; in one of my first stories I had a handsome hunk of a man, meeting a perfectly beautiful lady. While this may be poetic, it is not particularly real and therefore your reader will lose interest in a story like this.
The main problem many writers have with writing short stories is to get the story to flow. Often they jump between important parts of the plot and try and lead the reader in the right direction; the story should flow gently and logically allowing your reader to absorb the plot and not get lost in it.
One of the keys to writing a short story is to keep it exciting; most readers of short stories don’t want a plot that is quiet or builds up as they would buy a book or novel; the best short stories will grip your reader and keep them gripped for the entire story.
All this advice is very subjective and is based on my perception of what my readers want. As you continue to write you will get criticized, demoralized and will want to throw your pen away; if you only listen to one piece of advice, persevere. The rewards are many fold; maybe not monetary but in a sense of achievement.