Tips for writing a Short Story

Your short story needs to have:

  • A sizzling start to hook the reader
  • Strong characters
  • Realistic dialogue
  • Rich language
  • Colourful descriptions
  • Your main character must have a problem to solve or something they really want.
  • Interesting setting
  • An unexpected twist at the end

Find an Idea

Ideas are everywhere. Keep your eyes and ears open. Lots of things can spark your imagination:

  • Snippets of conversation
  • Articles in newspapers and magazines
  • Photos
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Books
  • People watching
  • Your experiences
  • Family history
  • Holidays
  • School

Maybe you would like to start an Ideas file on your computer, in a note book, in a ring folder or in a shoe box.

Refine your Idea

Make some decisions:

  • Which age group are you targeting?
  • Who is your main character?
  • Which point of view will you use? First person? Third person?
  • What tense? Past tense or present tense?
  • Is your idea a plot or a theme? Plots involve action and events to move the protagonist from one scene to the next. Themes happen inside a character’s head.

Make your main character come alive

Spend some time shaping your character. Make lists. Brainstorm ideas. Write descriptions. Look for pictures in magazines that look like your character. Think of their personality, hopes, fears and desires ….. as well as physical description.

  • Your main character will drive the plot
  • What are your character’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is their biggest fear?
  • What has been their proudest accomplishment?
  • What is their deepest secret?
  • What do they find funny?
  • What makes them angry?
  • Who is in their family?
  • Who are their friends?
  • What do they look like?
  • What is their favourite activity? Sport? Art? Music? Reading? Dancing?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their school like?
  • What is their favourite food?
  • What music do they like?
  • What is their bedroom like?
  • What books/movies do they like?

Add complications

kid_writingA plot without conflict won’t keep the pages turning.
Make your character want something.
Think about where your story will start and end.
Start in the middle of something.
Start to think about some possible twists you could put in your ending.
Opening Scene
Remember the opening scene is very important.
Try to visualise it as if it were the opening scene of a movie.
Start your first draft.
Jump in and start writing. Don’t worry about getting the first draft perfect.
The best stories have been edited many times.

Remember you are the boss of your story. You create the characters and the setting. Have fun.