Author Topic: Starting to write short stories  (Read 1336 times)

Offline sincerely_anna

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Love takes up where knowledge leaves off
    • View Profile
Starting to write short stories
« on: December 15, 2011, 04:53:52 PM »
Hey, WC.

So, I have a bit of a problem. As I work on my novel, I keep thinking how beneficial it would be for me, as a novice writer, to start writing short stories. However, I know the writing process is vastly different from writing novels. Additionally, I feel as if I am swimming in a possibilities of ideas for stories and I can't seem to grasp one and make it into something real and readable. So, for all you WC members out there...

1. Do you write short stories? Why do you like to do so?

2. How did you get started writing short stories?

3. How do you come up with your ideas for short stories?

4. Any tips for beginning short story writers?


Your answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63376
  • So many jobs to do . . .
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 05:05:05 PM »
I've recently started writing short stories since entering the contests held on MWC. Before I started this, a novel was my main writing. I have found though that shorts are particularly good for honing chapters in to much more readable, stand-alone pieces, albeit as valid episodes in the overall plot of the novel.

Anything can prompt a short and they can be teeny weeny little stories or lengthier pieces [if you're only writing for yourself and not to a submission guideline word count].

Read through some of the past contests on here to see how differently people can approach the same idea -- you might find something that piques your interest and you will see a range of styles. Read collections by the likes of Guy du Maupassant to see how a master does it!

Every word counts in short stories, so no long-winded descriptions, deviations or explanations. Beginning [with a good hook], middle [with the conflict] and an end that wraps up the premise neatly and entertains and enthralls your readers satisfyingly, perhaps with an unexpected twist.

Once you have your idea, work out what the end is and then see how you can write towards that end. That's what I do -- there could be much more involved ***she said in the greatest understatement of the year*** ;D ;D ;D
Ambassador for NI. [without portfolio] 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/mwc/as-the-kettle-wolf-whistled/paperback/product-21544909.html

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • View Profile
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 05:22:11 PM »
1. Do you write short stories? Why do you like to do so? 2. How did you get started writing short stories?


Pretty much the same answer for #1 & 2.

Despite a few failed tries at a short, eventually I got more serious about doing so because I'm simply to verbose.

Writing a short story, especially if there is a word limit, forces me to edit repeatedly until it's within the word count and still tells the story I intended. Plus this experience helps when editing a longer piece.

3. How do you come up with your ideas for short stories?

Sometimes it the tickle of a memory, something someone says or even a picture.

Try looking around your home, pictures you have on the walls or in albums. It doesn't have to be the story behind the picture although it could be. But look at the picture for a moment; what's happening there. If there are people, what are they thinking about, what kind of lives to the live? These and other questions you may dream up could get you started.

4. Any tips for beginning short story writers?

Just start writing about something, anything. Even if what you started with doesn't go where you thought or wanted, you have words on the paper or screen and if you continue there may be another story hidden in all the ideas you've got down.

The main thing is, if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Old slogan I know, but it has lasted so long because it works.
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Gyppo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72189
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 05:37:02 PM »
As Wolfe said in another thread, and I have used the same trick whilst tutoring writing classes in the past, 'Write the end first, and then work towards it'.  You'll be like a detective arriving at the scene of a crime.  There's a body on the floor and you have to work out how it got there, who had a motive, who actually did it, and so on.

Don't be in a hurry to accept the first ideas that come into your head.  The second or third thoughts are usually even better.  But write them all down anyway.  That way you can see how they may - or may not - work from a reader's viewpoint.  Sometimes a brilliant incident, or a single image in your head, just refuses to go any further at the time.  Some of these will come back to you later and clamour for your attention again.

But whichever approach you choose, always keep this in mind...

With a short story you don't really have time or space for set-up.  You need to start at a point of high tension and then crank up the pressure from there onwards.  Absolutely essential information can be can be drip-fed into the tale, but concentrate on what is happening right then.

Think of a short story like an incident seen through a train window.  You don't know what happened before that short peephole into the character's lives, you don't know what happens once the train has passed by.  But if what happens during your limited opportunity is interesting enough you have a short story.

Gyppo  
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline heidi52

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13223
  • back in the saddle
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 07:27:08 PM »
Someone else posted this link to the lecture by Ray Bradbury and I decided to take his advice. Have put the novel aside to percolate and have been writing short stories.

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video/Literature/Contemporary-Literature/An-Evening-with-Ray-Bradbury/19494

Love the MWC circle challenges for give me a starting prompt and a word limit. First draft of my story is always over the limit, but going back and honing a short story is really sharpening my skills.   ;D

I also write short, quick poems. Whatever strikes my fancy. Try to write every single day, but sometimes that's just not practical.

Ideas come from everywhere, my nickname is the "Idea Hamster" - big wheel's always spinning...
Trust life to unfold as it should, and appreciate the gift of each day.

Sam Cooper

  • Guest
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 07:45:21 PM »
Hi there

1. Do you write short stories? Why do you like to do so?

Yes. I don't know if I like to. I'm not sure why I do anymore.

2. How did you get started writing short stories?

I wrote poetry at first and then when to prose-poetry, which lead to flash fiction, short stories, novel. So what feels like a natural progression of telling a tale.

3. How do you come up with your ideas for short stories?

I guess always there is some sort of prompt. Visually, emotionally. Some sense effected. I used to like photo prompts. It is amazing the different stories writers come up with all with the same visual point.


4. Any tips for beginning short story writers?

Tips. There's going to be lessons, sometimes feelings hurt, ideals challegned. Don't let them get you down. It's new. It's all part of writing.

Have fun.

Offline Skip Slocum

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12387
  • Writers are dreamers with pens
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2011, 02:21:39 AM »
I think short stories are a great way to learn how to write dialogue and exploit caricature traits in a given character.
Short stories also teach us 'trimming the fat' that is to say, getting the point across in as few words as are needed without volumes of fluff. They help us as writers imply details that are not overtly stated.

Shorts can also be a great way to store prompts for what could turn into full blown novels at some later date.

Exercise the use of emotions and believable body language in writing action-tags or character stage direction.

You may want to explore love, sadness, murder and or hate. Well, just how hateful can you actually write when it comes right down to putting it on paper? shorts let you explore these things.

JMO

Skip
MWC Glossary --> http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=41276.0

Offline Joe Mynhardt

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5967
  • Tales from The Darkest Depths
    • View Profile
    • Joe Mynhardt
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 02:30:40 AM »
I started with short stories first as a way to learn the craft. Now I'm starting with novels. Looks like we'll have to support each other for a while.  :D

Best is to read a lot of short stories going around these days. Get a copy or two of magazines that publish the genre of stories you like. It won't be long till ideas spring up in your head. Work on those ideas, keep thinking it over and ask questions like 'what if?' until you have a clear picture.

And just like novels, it will be trial and error for the first few.

Best of luck.
Founder and CEO of Crystal Lake Publishing - Tales from the Darkest Depths.
Two time Bram Stoker Award nominated editor publishing only the best in Dark Fiction. Check out Crystal Lake's books and grab two free titles by joining the newsletter.

Offline sincerely_anna

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Love takes up where knowledge leaves off
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 01:53:00 PM »
Thank you, everyone, for your detailed answers. I love this helpful community! You've all given me the inspiration I need to get started and write; which, as you all know, is sometimes the hardest part. Thanks again!!

Offline Gyppo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72189
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 02:19:32 PM »
Once you get into a habit it's hard to stop.  Some habits are worth forming.  I read somewhere that it takes six weeks at least to form a good habit, some sources claim twelve, and only one week to lose it.  Bad habits more or less reverse these figures.

Writing is a good addiction.

Go for it ;-)

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

thatollie

  • Guest
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2011, 07:30:21 PM »
1. Yes, I like them because they're more fun than writing novels.

2. I read a lot of short stories, it's only natural that I'd want to write them.

3. I have a book full of ideas.

4. Get a book full of ideas, that thing has been a godsend.

Offline HPvD

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 600
    • View Profile
    • HP's Happy Writing Blogspot.com
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2011, 11:10:04 AM »
1) Yes, once in a while I write a Short Story, I do think that I like the idea to be able to write something
that can somehow take people into a certain (real or imaginary) world.

2) I do think because I once read an article about Writing Short Stories, and because, because of that
I actually begun to read Short Stories from several writers.

3) I do think that I start with the end in mind, just wondering about what possible effects on the readers I would like to have
with a Story when it's finished, from that somehow construct some sort of 'Writing Assignment' for myself that can
make that words begin to flow.

I do think having such an Assignment can bring me in a state that can
make me get ideas. (Btw thanks for asking this question, because I haven't written many Short Stories lately and
maybe reading this back can help :))


4) Just write something?   
To your Happy<i> - Writing -</i> Inspiration, http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com

Offline mfarraday

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
    • View Profile
Re: Starting to write short stories
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2011, 12:16:10 PM »
1. Do you write short stories? Why do you like to do so?
2. How did you get started writing short stories?
3. How do you come up with your ideas for short stories?
4. Any tips for beginning short story writers?

- i like to write short stories b/c i have no patience. i NEED to get DONE with my STORY. NOW. i would not yet have the patience for an actual novel. i did write something around 20,000 words recently, but i don't think i could last for longer than, say 50K.

- i just sat down and wrote when i got an idea. this was in May of 2011.

- they simply occur to me. sometimes i lie down and actually try to think of one.

- tip: jot down notes/outlines, sometimes they can help you to plan your story better.