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Sunday, September 15, 2019

7 Steps to Planning a Short Story

I've been reading a lot of short stories lately. I've also been working on writing several new short stories of my own. I recently realized I plan them all basically the same way. In case you are interested, or are stuck and hoping for some help, here is my short story process.

1) Pantsing - I never plan draft one. I always start with a general idea, goal, emotion, or scene in mind. I write this until I can't go any further.

2) Clarify Problem(s) - this is the central conflict of the story - it's purpose. Why should the reader be interested?

3) Clarify Character - why does the main character in particular need to face this issue? Why is it important to them? This is usually the protagonist, but not always.

4) Strengthen Obstacle - what has kept the character from achieving their goal? This could be more than one issue, but the struggle to overcome this is what helps you to develop character and caring from your reader.

5) Introduce Failure - have the main character fail at least once. No one like a perfect, easy, straight line to a goal. What do they need to learn to accomplish, or move on from, this dream?

6) Highlight Shortcomings - the solution, or key to obtaining the goal, lies squarely in the faults or overcoming of that characters issues. It should seem as if this story could only happen this way, for this particular protagonist.

7) Finale - show the hero achieving the reward, or learning to accept failure (unless you want the unsatisfying ending). Either way, this too should be a result of this particular characters decisions.

How does this process differ from yours? Any great short stories you want to recommend?


lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Excellent advice, especially about what point the story is making.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great advice for any length story.
I always plan everything out although the story can drift some from the outline.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great tips. I love to write short stories. That's a huge part of my writing. I do plot.


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