Writing a Short Story

A novel requires a certain kind of world-building and also a certain kind of closure, ultimately. Whereas with a short story you have this sense that there are hinges that the reader doesn’t see.

Dan Chaon

 

Short-Story

Short Stories Can Be Fun

Writing a short story is fun. Well, it can be in certain ways. If your not a short story writer then you probably won’t find them fun, but how can you know until you have given it a crack.

The biggest thing I love about short stories is that they are easy and quick to read as well as write. You can get the first draft written in a matter or hours. The thing that really does it for me is that you can find out what the conclusion is not long after you start reading. Unlike a novel, you don’t stop and start reading. There is no suspense of waiting to find the time to read the next part; a short story will begin and finish before you know it.

Depending on what you want to do with a short story or what idea you have will depend on how you write. A short story can be finished in a day, or a week, or a month. However, with every type of writing there are positives and negatives.

You can write a short story in two hours. Two hours a day, you have a novel in a year.

Ray Bradbury

Four Steps to Help You Write a Short Story

1. Read Short Stories.

If you are a writer then you have probably heard it a hundred times but writers read what they want to write. If you want to write science fiction, read science fiction; if you want to write romance, read romance; if you want to write novels, read novels; and if you want to write short stories, then write short stories.

If you have never read a short story then you might have a hard time writing one. You are going to have no idea what you are doing. Taking a real good and deep looking at one or two short stories will help improve your understanding. Study them and find out what makes them so good.

2. What are you writing about?

If you plan to write a short story, or anything for that matter, you need to know what you are writing about. So take a couple minutes, or thirty, or hell even take a hour to write down what you story is about. You could write a couple of lines or a whole page. This summary will help you understand what your story is really all about. Because if you don’t know what is it about then how will those who read it?

3. Write it!

The best thing to do is just write. Don’t worry if it sounds like absolute crap the first time. You can improve it later. Every write should know that your first draft will always be crap. Just put your pen to paper, or your fingers to keys, and get going. Before you know it you will have either started your story or finished it.

And don’t worry about how long it is. If you are trying to write a 5000 word story then its fine if the first draft ends up being 6000, or 7000. As a writer you should know that you will cut down. You will remove words and sentences to make it better.

4. Rewrite, edit, repeat.

The best thing a writer can do is rewrite but don’t rewrite until you have finished the first draft. You will rewrite, then edit, and then do it again and again until the words on the page, or the words on the screen, will be the best damn story you have ever written.

It can be the hardest part of writing a short story and it can feel difficult. It can be hard to change things but in the end it is for the best.

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Top 5 Books You Should Read If You Haven’t Already

Normally on a Tuesday I post a book review. And today’s review was meant to be the current Stephen King book that I am reading, however, I haven’t had the chance to finish reading the novel so I came up with this little idea instead.

Not everyone buys a book to read just because it is new. I am constantly finding books that I have never even heard of and they were published years ago. So I decided I am going to give you my top five recommendations. These are the books I think you should read if you haven’t read them already. So here we go.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

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Goodreads Average Rating: 4.04 out of 5

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Alternative Dimensions

Published: 24 February, 2015

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ in the first installment of V. E. Schwab’s series. The story follows Kell, who is a rare magician who has the ability to travel between worlds, and Delilah, who is a thief. These two characters are thrown together after Delilah steals from him and then also save him from a dangerous enemy.

The overall story is a thrilling read and never gets boring. Excitement lays over every page and the characters are hard not to love.

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ was my favourite book of 2015, and the sequel ‘ A Gathering of Shadows’ came out earlier this year.


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

23569524Goodreads Average Rating: 4.31 out of 5

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia, High Fantasy, Romance

Published: 28 April, 2015

‘An Ember in the Ashes’ follows two points of views. Going back and forth between Laia who is a slave and has her whole life turned upside down, and Elias who is a soldier and has been trained to be one since he was a child. Both of them want to be free, but both of them are stuck.

The first book is Sabaa Tahir’s series, ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ is a thrilling journey for these two main characters. The whole book is addicting and with every page I wanted more and more, and when it ended I just wanted to cry. There are no boring sections in this book, it is fantastic from start to finish.


Horns by Joe Hill

6587879Goodreads Average Rating: 3.91 out of 5

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

Published: 1 March, 2009

With a name like Ignatius Perrish and a pair of horns growing from a head, I couldn’t really tell what this story was going to be about. But by the end I was amazed. Joe Hill, did an amazing job creating this story about Ignatius, or as he is called Ig, who wakes up one morning with horns growing from his head. You quickly learn that Ig’s long time girlfriend has been murdered and the whole town believes that Ig is guilty, but he didn’t do it.

From beginning to end the story is interguing and keeps you wanting to read. The only thing that disappointed me were the last few pages. I feel the ending pushed the story too far. But ignoring that small section the story is fantastic.

If you have seen the movie, which starred Daniel Radcliff and you didn’t enjoy it, well ignore the movie and pick this book up. It is just amazing.


The Host by Stephanie Meyer

1656001Goodreads Average Rating: 3.84 out of 5

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure

Published: 6 May, 2006

From the author who brought the world ‘Twilight’ comes a story that it completely different. There are no sparkling vampires or hunky werewolves, instead there is a thrilling story about a human, Melody, and an alien that takes over her body, Wanderer.

Stephanie Meyer brings a new life to her writing with a Science Fiction story that has friendship, family and romance, along with action and fighting for survival. Personally I think that the host is a better story that the ‘Twilight’ series. ‘The Host’ is thrilling, and interesting and not a boring read. The movie isn’t bad either. If you didn’t like ‘Twilight’ then do not fear because this book is nothing like it. In fact the two different stories didn’t feel like the same author.


The Book of You by Claire Kendal

24516182Goodreads Average Rating: 3.59 out of 5

Genre: Fiction, Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Suspense, Contemporary

Published:  1 January, 2015

This breathtaking story follows Clarissa as she becomes more paranoid that someone is stalking her. At the beginning of the story Clarissa is selected for jury duty and she can’t help but feel that it is a safe haven from her stalker. She becomes more unnerved though when she recognises parallels between her life the story of the trails victim.

The story is a great read and keeps you on your toes. It isn’t the type of book I would read alone in your house, or on the train at night. Through some part of the story it almost felt like I was Clarissa. I was pulled so far into her story that I felt like I was being stalked. (I didn’t become paranoid though.)

The story also holds romance and betrayal, as well as friendship and mystery. It is an overall great story line that brought me back to the world of mysteries.


I hope you all have had a chance to read these amazing novels. These are some of my favourites. They are all amazing in their own way.

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Goodreads Average Rating: 4.18 out of 5

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Alternative Universe, Dystopia

 ‘The first time I traveled to another dimension, I intended to take a life. Now I’m trying to save one. But I can’t do that unless I save myself. At the moment, I’m running through the winding streets of a near-medieval Rome, trying not to get burned at the stake.’

– Ten Thousand Skies Above You, Claudia Gray – Chapter 1

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Ten Thousand Skies Above You is the second book in the Firebird series by Claudia Gray. The story follows Marguerite Caine as she uses a device, called the Firebird, created by her parents to travel between alternative universes.

The sequel picks up not long after the end of the first installment, and trouble is just over the horizon. Marguerite is on a mission to save the man she loves after his soul was broken and put into multiple versions of himself. To save the man she loves Marguerite is torn between saving the man she loves and possibly ruining the lives of her family in other dimensions.

Reading the sequel straight after the first novel is one of the best feelings a reader can have. You don’t spend ages wanting to read the next one but you are unable to do so. However, now I have to wait until November until the third installment is released. And another great thing is when the sequel doesn’t let down your expectations from the first one. The story plot was interesting and I was excited to what would happen next, this series – so far – is a page turner. The characters were great and it was good to see them grow and see them experience new challenges to overcome.

Claudia Gray has done a wonderful job of creating new and exciting worlds to visit in the story and the small changes she makes were surprising but good. Not once did I get bored of reading this wonderful story and I am extremely excited for the third book.

This is defiantly a series that many people will enjoy.


Other Books in the Firebird Series:
– A Thousand Pieces of You – Book 1
– A Million Worlds With You – Book 3 (releases on 1 November, 2016)

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

Old school typewriter

Have you ever heard the saying: ‘Show, don’t tell.’

Because I have. For the past two and a bit years, this saying has been drilled into my head by teachers and writers. This simple phrase can help a write in many ways and it can sound a bit confusing, someone even told me once that it sounded like a daunting task. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is relativity simple.

To use ‘show, don’t tell,’ you first need to understand when writers mean when they say this to you. This saying breaks down into two parts; tell and show. Tell is simply when a write tells you what is happening, it is simple exposition. Show is when a writer uses evocative description.

Examples:

  • Tell – The wind was cold.
  • Show – The icy cold breeze seeped in through her thin dress, covering her in goose bumps.

 

  • Tell – She was wet.
  • Show – The water dripped from the ends of her hair, and off the edge of her fingers.

 

See how show gives you a vivid image while tell is simple and to the point, but it is completely boring. You want something to excite the reader, something that gets them to read on and maybe go and buy any other novels that you have.

See it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. Touch it.

The five senses are a writers best friend when it comes to ‘show, don’t tell.’ This is the main tool, in my opinion, that you will use to remove the ‘tell’ and reveal the ‘show’ in your writing. They help you really delve deep into the world that your character is in.

When you first start writing a scene and your not really sure who to describe it, then write the scene using simple descriptions. Once the scene is finished then go back and add in your sensory detail. What does the place smell like? What can your characters see around them that stands out? What can they hear? If they are laying on grass, for example, is it itchy? Is it soft? Is it wet? Small details like these gives readers a clear image of what the world is like for your characters.

For example:

  • Without Sensory Detail: The meadow was large and open. Filled with grass, and surrounded by a fence. In the centre was a tall tree, its leaves hung over a small damn.

In the example, you can see that readers can understand the place the writer is explaining. Its a meadow with a tree and a damn. But to make it even better think about the senses. What can the character see, smell, taste, touch and feel? Simple questions that can improve the overall imagery.

  • With Sensory Detail: The meadow stretched on for miles, surrounded by an old broken wooden fence. The grass stood tall and gently swayed from side to side. In the middle of the meadow stool a tall large willow trees, its leaves hanging from its long branches just over the surface of a small damn.

The differences might be a few words here and there but detailed description is important. You don’t want anyone reading your work to think its boring. If you think you need practice then simple look up a writing prompt or a story idea, and just practice your descriptions. As they say, practice makes perfect.


These links can give you more information for ‘show, don’t tell’ and hopefully help you some more.

Writing A Crime Novel Part 1 – Planning

Photo of Police Tape, saying 'Police Line Do Not Cross'.
By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Crime Novels are a whole new type of world to some readers. For a reader who has never picked up or read a crime novel inside they will find a new experience. Most readers will either love it, or hate it. Crime is a very divided genre and many readers will love knuckling down with a good murder mystery, but others have better things to do (or better things to read) in their spare time.

“Murder mysteries are puzzles that are fun to resolve.”
– Kathy Reichs

As an aspiring author, crime has been one of the genres I have wanted to write for; along with fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary. I want to join the ranks of famous crime novelists who are talked about for their fascinating killers and intriguing plot twists. And this is me giving it a go.

I have dipped my toes in a bit of crime writing but never really sat down and planned a whole novel based on a murder mystery. Now I have started. Since beginning my crime novel has started not even two weeks after I have began this blog, I figured it could possibly be an interesting post series that I could update every fortnight on what I do with writing my crime story. I want to chat about planning and characters, and the issues I have along with the successes (or what I think is successful anyway). And I want to do this without giving any sort of spoilers away.

“There are two kinds of people who sit around all day thinking about killing people…mystery writers and serial killers. I’m the kind that pays better.”
― Richard Castle

Planning

Sitting down to plan my crime novel I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I wanted to write about. The clear thing to me was it had to be about a ‘crime’, which might sound obvious and a dump thing to say, but I knew if I didn’t think about the ‘crime’ aspect first then I would most likely forget all about it. That gave me the first thing I knew I need to do.

The Crime. The Victims. The Killer.

With every crime comes a victim or multiple victims. So what did I want to do? Did I want a serial killer or person would it be a missing persons case. I was watching an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ as I was thinking about it and I knew I wanted to do a story about a serial killer, who had killed multiple people and would kill many more until they were stopped.

Before I decided on who my killer was I chose their victims. Creating them one by one, I slowly picked little details here and there and the story wrote itself. I knew how every victim would die and why the killer chose them. The actual crime seemed to write itself, and the more I knew about the victims the more I knew about the killer.

The next step to me was to create my killer. Who was my killer as a person? What was their life like? Their struggles and the successes? What drove them to kill? Love? Family? Friendship? Or was it something mental? As seen with many crime shows; ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘Law and Order: SVU’, and ‘Bones’, there are many different reasons why people kill or commit crimes. In ‘Criminal Minds’ there is generally a mental cause. In ‘Bones’ it normally has to do with money, love, sex, betrayal, etc. With my victims laid out all the questions I asked came flooding out and I had a killer written before me on the page and I was happy.

Next…

When I plan a story I normally begin with my main character. Who this person is? What they do? What is their deep desire that is hiding within? But I found that I couldn’t really think of anyone. Nothing seemed to create a spark or get my creativity flowing. However, having my victims and my killer, I found ideas jumped out at me and told me who my main character would be. But that is for next time.

‘The way to write a thriller is to ask a question at the beginning, and answer it at the end.’

– Lee Child


REFERENCES

The quotes on this blog post were found from these websites