15 Tips for Writing Great Short Stories

More Info

Short stories are very straightforward and focus on one conflict, unlike novels. Not everyone has the time, or even the passion, to write novels. However, this shouldn’t stop you from maximizing your writing skills. Short stories allow you to do this effectively. Here are 15 best tips to help you write great short stories.


This is something that must always ring in your mind. While they both have rising actions, climax/peak, and falling actions, the difference is that a short story is a short story. There are many other things that a novel would have that a short story would lack. 


Make your plot evident from the first sentence. You must start very close to the peak, focus on your plot and finish up quickly. This brings you closer to the end from the start. After that, you don't have much time to meander or describe your characters. 


You must catch the reader’s attention from the first sentence. Use unexpected or unusual actions, or go straight into the conflict. Add immediacy, or start with tension. 


Short stories use a fast pace, increasing as the character reaches the central conflict. Because you are starting close to the end, you must take the readers straight into the thick of the action from the start. 


Every story needs one. It gives the readers someone to look out for. Make them care about this character by giving the character a passion (that the reader shares), a determination to leave their comfort zone, or a weakness that readers relate to. 


You can’t develop your character properly in short stories, so you must limit them. It is harder for readers to track several poorly defined characters in a short story. Ideally, you should use three characters; the protagonist, antagonist, and the relationship character. According to an essay help author, this gives the reader someone to cheer, hate, and another that advances either character.


You need one point of conflict in your short story. It has to be a revelation, dilemma, or decision for the main character. Create some tension around the conflict to keep the readers’ interest. Show your readers what the character is made of by making bad things befall them. 


This is the perspective from which the story is narrated. Is it the first person, second, or third? First, you must determine who tells the story and the amount of information the narrator reveals. The narrator can be in the story subjectively or report it objectively. 


Every sentence counts in a short story, so there is not much space for a backstory. You may leave it out altogether. However, it has to be in your head. Know the character’s motivation and write a compelling story drawing the readers in with tension and tight dialogue. 


You may be tempted to restrict the readers to visual experience in a short story, but you should engage all senses. Include taste, smell, touch, and hearing in your story. Let them feel the story as though it is theirs. 


Good dialogues give life to the character and the story as a whole. A tight conversation helps you to build drama. It must feel natural to your audience and not out of character. 


Combine the setting with the plot and characterization. Add enough details for the readers to picture the scene, using at least two senses while describing the setting. Make sure to use only essential information. 


The plot is the event or series of events that will happen with the character in the story. So the story element that you are using will determine how the plot will go. 


After creating your plot, building tension, and reaching climax, there has to be a resolution to the conflict. You may not be able to give a complete resolution in a short story, but there has to be a solution to the conflict you created. 


Every writer, irrespective of how good they are, needs to learn to edit their stories too. You may think your story is perfect, but editing it will only make it more compelling and concise. Good writers are ruthless editors. 



These are my top 15 tips for writing a great short story. You must never forget that a short story isn't a novel, so you can’t write them the same way. 


Author Bio

John Peterson is a journalist with four years of experience working in the London magazine “Shop&buy.” He is a professional mini-tennis player, and he has written a novel, “His heart.” You can find him on FB. 

Campaign Wall

Join the Conversation

Sign in with your Facebook account or