The longer the text, the more important it becomes to revise it. This is true for flash fictions and even more for short stories.
Beside to the story itself, the writer might aim for a specific effect, word choice or rhythm. And when this message got lost during the creative process of a first draft – revision is there to save the day. Or at least polish the text to something that’s worth reading.

Plot

Review whether the story sticks to the formula used. Did it hit or miss the mayor plot points? And does it matter and break the story or are you better off with some freedom? At least try to see the formula behind the words you wrote.

Especially when you ignored your outline half way through, check if the plot is consistent, builds up to the climax and leads the reader causally through the action. Look out for subplots or even side characters that might want to steal the show.

Length

The length is mostly relevant, when writing to a submission guideline. Keep an eye on it while writing and revising to match any underlying formulas. When cutting and adding to the story, the overall length and distribution to plot points might be out of balance.

Additionally, remember the word count of a short story – by it’s definition. Below 1.000 words and you are better off with a flash fiction. Above 10.000 and it’s to long for a short story and you should look out to cut your writing down or take a serious look at novellas.

Pacing

In contrast to flash fiction, the short story allows for world building and description. But nonetheless, take care not to distract from your plot too much. The plot points should be somewhat evenly distributed.
When re-reading your story for the revision(s) look out for parts that you want or tend to skip, or when you failed to grasp all the action going on. There might be a problem with your pacing.

Voice

Truly great stories have great voices. At least pay attention to the style of your prose. Do you match the chosen genre, atmosphere and narrator? Word choice, comparisons and the level of detail highly depend on the person who is telling the story.

Especially short stories are perfect to try something new and play with a strong or unusual voice. Let it be the perspective of an animal, a sociopath, someone colorblind, or an immortal fighting his pain for the loss of the last loved one on earth. Pay attention to your stories special effects or unique feature.

Last Touches

Besides plot, formula, genre and voice, there might be additional stylistic choices.

Maybe the submission you are writing to asks for a modern fairy tale. Or you write the whole thing in second person. Or a robin is mentioned as often as possible to act as a leading image. There are no boundaries for your creativity. Such little extras might bring you as a writer joy for your story.

When you are somewhat content with your short story, go print it out. Read it aloud – bonus points if somebody is listening to your reading – and find last typos and word traps.
Now congratulations, you wrote a beautiful short story.

Revise a Short Story

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