After over a decade of judging thousands of short stories in our national writing competitions, our Writers College judges have compiled a list of eight tips to help you onto the shortlist. What exactly is a short story? A short story is not a commentary on current affairs, an article about collecting clocks or a humorous opinion piece for the back page of a magazine! A short story is just that: a made-up tale about characters where something happens (usually bad), and you hope everything will turn out fine in the end. Let's see a more formal definition. According to Wikipedia, a short story is a piece of fictional writing, usually, with fewer than 5000 words, that contains these basic elements: characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution, climax, dialogue, a protagonist, and an antagonist. But definitions don't tell you that a short story has to grab your reader's interest from the word go. Nor have you got the luxury of pages of flowery descriptive writing as you would have in a novel. You have, in this case, 2000 words to bring in your characters, define the setting of your story, and introduce some sort of conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist that will keep the reader dying to know how it all ends. Does this mean every story has to have a happy ending? Definitely not. But it should reach a satisfactory conclusion so your reader thinks, “That was a good read”. So study these eight vital steps below, […]
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