How to write a good story

Humans are and can be storytellers. But when it comes to writing a good story, you may feel stumped, even if you have a vivid imagination and a million great ideas. You want to create something original, not a cliché! To write a good story, you have to get inspired, develop your content, and then revise your work until you’ve written the best story you can write. If you want to write a good short story, just follow these simple steps.

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Pay attention to the world and what’s around you. If you want to be able to write a good, short story, or even a long one, then you have to keep your eyes and ears open at all times, and listen to the world and let it inspire you! You will soon find out what you can write about to make the best story! You may want to ask other people about their ideas about the world around them, as this story is going to be for many audiences, so don’t base your tale on just your opinions. You can never put too much time, effort or description into your story. Here are some great ways to gather details that may lead you to a short story:

·         Read a book. Experience helps. Reading is good for the brain, it can help educate you on what a well published book looks like. Of course, there are millions of books out there, but try going to your local library and searching for books that may fit your interests. Every book and person is different. Maybe the book will give you some good sentence starters, inspiration, and the type of text you want to write. Make sure to read a wide variety to grow your vocabulary. The next thing you know, you’ll have the premise for a terrific tale.

·         Notice interesting character traits. Maybe you have noticed that your neighbour likes to talk to his plants or that he takes his cat for a walk every morning. This, again, is working with the world around you. Is your sister geeky? Maybe have a geeky character based on her personality. Try thinking about the inner life of this kind of person and see if a story develops.

·         Pay attention to your surroundings. Take a walk or spend some time sitting in a park and observing and see what you can find. Maybe you’ll see a bouquet of roses sitting next to a gutter, or a brand-new pair of sneakers on a park bench. How did they get there? Ponder, daydream!

·         Listen to people when they talk. Just one interesting sentence that you hear in passing can inspire you to write an entire story. Maybe you’ll hear someone say, “Nobody gets me……” or “My dog likes to torture all the men I date…” Is that enough to start a story? Sure!

 

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Consider a “What if..” scenario. This is another great way to start a short story. When you pay attention to the world, you should also pay attention not only to the realities of the world, but to the possibilities of the world. When you do pay attention to a story you hear or an image you see, ask yourself, “But what if it happened like this instead?” or “What would this person do if…” Following this line of thinking can lead you to explore the mysteries that are haunting you.

·         You don’t have to know the ending of a story when you start. In fact, not knowing everything about a story before you start writing it will lead you to explore more creative possibilities and will make your story stronger.

·         The “what if” scenario can be practical or completely fantastical. You can ask yourself, “What if my dog started talking to me?” or, “What if the neighbor who fawns over my dog too much kidnapped her one day?”

3

Use your experiences. Though short story writing falls under the category of fiction writing, many short stories are heavily autobiographical. If you’re writing about something that actually happened to you or someone you know, then that’s considered non-fiction writing, but getting inspired by experiences you actually had and then taking them to a new and fictional level is a great plan for writing a short story, especially if you feel that you have “nothing to write about.”

·         Many people say that you should “write what you know.” One school of thought is that if you grew up on a farm in Arkansas or if you spent ten years trying to be a painter in Iceland, you should write about those experiences instead of trying to guess what it would be like for someone to grow up in a place you’ve never been.

·         Some writers say that you should “write what you don’t know about what you know.” This means that you should start off on familiar territory and then start exploring something that left you feeling curious or that you didn’t know much about.

·         If you get too comfortable with writing about things that actually happened, you won’t have room for creativity. For example, maybe you had a childhood friend who moved away one day without telling a soul, or maybe you were fascinated by a Ferris-wheel operator as a kid and always wondered what happened to him. Explore this world and then make it up.

 

 

 

4

Reflect on a story you heard. Always be on the lookout for stories that your friends or family members have told that would make great fiction. If your mother or grandmother are always telling you stories about their childhoods, start writing them down. Try to imagine what it was like to grow up in a different time or place and start writing out the possibilities. Don’t be put off if you don’t know everything about that time period; you can always do your research.

·         When one of your friends says, “You won’t believe what happened to me last week…” pay attention. You could have the beginning of a short story right there.

·         The story could come from an unlikely place. Maybe a radio DJ is reminiscing about his childhood in just a few sentences, and you find yourself suddenly fascinated by what his life must have been like.

·         Just be warned: if you get a reputation of a writer who “steals” the stories people tell him and uses them for fiction, then people may be more hesitant to open up to you.

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Get inspired by a setting. A story can come from a strong sense of place. By this stage you should know what type of story you are writing. Maybe a sci-fi story could be set in an underground laboratory, or a horror tale in a dilapidated shack. You don’t have to get inspired by a breathtaking beach or by your amazing vacation to Venice. Instead, get inspiration from the ordinary. Think about what it was like to spend every summer on your grandmother’s apple orchard as a kid; remember what it was like to hang out in your best friend’s basement back in high/secondary/grammar school.

·         Writing about the place can lead you to develop interesting characters and conflicts.

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Expand a writing exercise. Writing exercises have helped a lot of writers develop their creativity, find inspiration in unlikely places, and to force themselves to write when they feel like they have “no ideas.” You can start with a daily warm-up writing exercise just for 10-15 minutes to get your mind going, or even write for an hour based on the exercise even if you don’t feel inspired at all. Here are some great writing exercises to get you started:[1]

·         Start a story with the following opening sentence: “I’ve never told this to anyone before.” If your story is not told first person, maybe start it with, “She shut the door. Tears streamed down her face. Had he just deceived her?”

·         Look at a picture of an ordinary barn in a field. Then, describe it from the point of view of someone who has just committed murder. Do this again from the point of view of a girl who has just lost her mother. See how a character’s thoughts can influence how he sees the world. Put yourselves in the characters shoes!

·         Just write for 10-15 minutes. Look back at what you’ve written to fix mistakes.

·         Pick a person in your life who you absolutely dislike. Now, try writing a story from that person’s point of view. Try to make the reader sympathize with him as much as possible. Remember-it’s your story!

·         Let a character surprise you. Write about a character that you seem to know pretty well, and then let this person do something that completely throws you off guard. See where this takes you. This makes your story more intriguing.

·         The argument. Have two characters arguing about something completely mundane, like who is going to take out the trash, or who will pay for the movie. Make it clear that this argument is really about something bigger and more serious, such as who is going to end the relationship, or who has been giving too much and not getting anything back. Try to let the dialogue do all the work. Don’t make it boring though.

·         Body language. Write 500 words that describe two characters who are sitting next to each other. Without using dialogue, let the reader see exactly how these two characters feel about each other.

 

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Read other short stories. If you want to be able to master the short story, then you should read as many short stories as you can. You should read both the classics and the contemporary masters, and use the writing of others to inspire you to write some short stories of your own. Here are some contemporary and classic short stories that can inspire you to write more short stories of your own:

·         Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog”

·         Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”

·         Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

·         Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”

·         Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”

·         Isaac Asimov’s “The Dead Past”

·         Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”

·         Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”

·         Alice Munro’s “The Beggar Maid”

·         Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

·         Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

·         Jhumpa Lahiri’s “A Temporary Matter”

·         Junot Diaz’s “How to Date a Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie”

·         Malorie Blackman’s “Cloud Busting”.

·         Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”