6 Tips to Writing the Perfect Short Story

Many people may have thought about writing their own short story, and their imagination may have even challenged them to put a rough draft version on paper or even Microsoft word. However, when people truly want to shape and define their short story, there are specific tips you should follow to turn a once imagined idea into a reality.

Today, we will be going over these six perfect writing tips to help you lay out your ideas into a workable readable masterpiece.

Elements of a Short Story

When writing a short story you have to first consider; how long do you want it to be? A short story can be anywhere from 500 to 7,500 words, and can fall into the realm of fiction or non-fiction. Regardless of these first two considerations, we will now go over the six tips that are critical for your short story.

Stasis

Stasis means that equilibrium or balance and can be thought of as protagonists in everyday life in which the story is set. This is the exposition of the story where the characters, and the setting are introduced.

As an example, picture Cinderella sweeping the ashes for her evil stepmother, or poor Jack from Jack and the beanstalk living in poverty with his mother with a single cow. You could even see Frodo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings in Baggend in their small hobbit community.

Trigger & Quest

The trigger comes into play when something eventually happens, which is outside the control of the main character or protagonist. The trigger leads to the evolution of the story and is the beginning of the rising action.

As shown in a few examples, Cinderella meets her fairy godmother. With Jack and the beanstalk, Jack encounters a man with magic beans. With the Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins encounters Gandalf the wizard telling him about the magic ring to rule them all.

The quest is typically the rising action and is a direct result of the story’s trigger. If the story is positive in nature, it may lead the protagonist on a quest to maintain this new improved existence, however, if the trigger is negative or problematic, it leads to the protagonist’s quest to return life to its normal existence.

An example, Cinderella sets off the Royal Ball with the magic gown and stagecoach from her fairy godmother. Jack goes on his adventure from curiosity to discover where the beanstalk into the clouds leads. Lastly, we see Frodo goes on his quest to carry the one ring to mount doom to throw it into the fire from which it was made.

Surprise

Surprises are unexpected events, but more commonly they are challenges or obstacles that prevent the protagonist from completing his or her quest. One type of surprise may be the introduction of a new character who either helps the protagonist or stands in their way. Surprises must be used purposefully, but still be unexpected for the reader.

Examples of this include the Grand Duke in Cinderella who wants his daughter to marry Prince Charming and makes a deal with Cinderella’s evil step mother. In Jack and the beanstalk, we see specific giants introduced when he makes his way to the top of the beanstalk. In the Lord of the Rings, we see Strider (Aragorn) introduced when the hobbits make their way to the Prancing Pony.

Critical Choice & Climax

The critical choice is in every good story, where the protagonist is put in a position where they must make a critical choice. The decision they make is key to the story and reveals the protagonist’s true character to the reader. Perhaps the character must choose between an easy or hard rigorous path.

The climax occurs when a decision must be made by a character when faced with a critical choice that leads to the climax at which is the highest level of tension for the reader.

For example, Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters trying on the glass slipper for the Prince Charming. In Jack and the beanstalk, we see this climax when he is being pursued by the giants and cutting down the beanstalk. In the Lord of the Rings, we see this climax when Frodo has to throw the “one ring” into the lava at mount doom and doesn’t want to.

Reversal

The reversal occurs typically with the outcome of the critical choice and the climax, and it usually results in major changes for the characters. It’s important that a story’s reversal is logical and based on the events leading up to the final point in a story.

As an example, in Cinderella we see that she is no longer living in poverty when the glass slipper fits her foot, and she is to be married to Prince Charming. In Jack and the beanstalk, the reversal is clear where Jack and his mother live with extraordinary wealth. In the Lord of the Rings, the enemy is defeated and everyone is in celebration.

Resolution

Resolution occurs when the protagonist reaches a new stasis typically with dynamic characters. The characters will have evolved learning important life lessons through their experiences. In the three examples that were used, each could say they learned valuable lessons by the end of their tales.

Final Thoughts

Creating a short story is a thrilling experience that you can share with others who might enjoy your viewpoint. However, to get to that point you should use the six tips we shared today in order to lay out your story from start to finish having the reader exclaim that your story was one of the best stories they read so far.

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