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University Writing Center

Short Story Writing From A Talk By Pat Carr

  • Put your first rough draft away. Let it sit overnight or, if you can, leave it alone for a week.
  • When you do re-read it, look at the action – a short story can only handle one basic action.  If you must have a second action story-line, maybe this could be told through flashbacks.
  • Always show the action rather than tell your reader what’s going on.
  • When you start your story get your reader involved in the conflict immediately. Maybe you could even begin in the middle of the resolution. Remember, hook—then don’t delay.
  • Limit your introductory content to three paragraphs.
  • Look at your setting; it should be somewhere you have actually been.
  • If your story has a number of settings then choose the one that works best with the conflict.
  • Use colors and objects that will help make your point—these should be familiar to your reader, but don’t overload your story with brand names.
  • A short story should not have more than five characters.
  • Always take a long look at “point of vies.”  Who is telling this story?

There are various ways of telling a story:

exterior            >            dramatic

you can tell anybody’s story from outside—from the point of view of observation.

interior            >            immediacy

you are telling the story from inside—which gives it a sense of immediate action—placing yourself and your reader inside the action.
Updated 1.12.2012