To take hold of your readers for 5.000 words or more it takes more than one shiny idea. For most part you need to present some development. Introduce the problem, fail to solve it and then end it.
The parts of a short story somehow expand those of a flash fiction story. The central element is your stories single arc.
- Beginning: Introduce your stories problem. It might be a general conflict (end of the world, shortage of strawberries, crime solving) or your main characters personal conflict (longing for cake, unfulfilled love). Protagonist and genre must be included as soon as possible.
- Middle: Here is where the problem get’s worse. Or else, the story would be much shorter. Raise the stakes or introduce additional complications.
- End: Solve the problem. For better or worse – that’s your choice. But don’t leave this thread hanging, as it ties your story together.
The stories ending must be satisfying. While the beginnings hook grabs the reader for the story, a good ending gains her to read the next story. Bonus points if the ending somehow mirrors the beginning.
Know your writing speed and how many words you aim for. Then it’s a matter of calculation. Plotting beforehand might speed up the process. Else you might want to write bit by bit and come up with the next plot point in the time between writing sessions.
At an average writing speed of 500 words for half an hour and a length of 6.000 words, this will take up to 6 hours for a first draft. Either one day of writing or distributed around several days.
This is where things get interesting. At first; it is totally fine to explore your story as you go. Then there are formulas, how-tos and techniques to structure your plot. I will go into the most popular ones in the following posts. But here is my disclaimer:
In my opinion, there is no one true way to structure your story. There is not even a rule, that you must structure your story beforehand or at all.
The experienced writer might use one or the other without knowing it and even ignoring all scientific hints you might end up with a damn good story.
Following a given formula might help you with a few things. When you are new to writing, you first need to play by the rules to grow a feeling for the right things to do. And you might use some of them as a kind of pattern to use for your first glimpse of an idea.
Here is a quick listing and linking to my posts of short story formulas (existing and upcoming):
Look forward to the next posts. Get inspired by the formulas and maybe try one of them out, even if they seem too clunky for your style of writing.