Friends, I know it’s the dream of every writer: conceiving the literary masterpiece. It’s not impossible to do, and there’s no one specific way to enter the ridgeline of literary stardom. Remember, all roads lead to Rome. Writing short stories is one of them. Too often, we overlook their importance in literature. Many contemporary writers begin their career by writing vignettes or collections of short stories. Why? Because short but impressionistic narratives help writers improve their writing skills and give them access to the publishing world. Many literary magazines always look for great stories to publish.
However, just because it’s a short story, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the rules. In a long narrative, such as a novel, many incidents can be channeled into a powerful story. A short story doesn’t offer that. It’s too brief. As many experts would tell you, to be a successful short story writer, you must follow two major principles.
First, because of the lack of pace, you need to be concise. This means every single word counts, for each word has a dual-task: engage the reader and move the story forward. Second, you need to introduce the plot early. The best and ONLY tangible way to accomplish these tasks is to get to the point right from the get-go. It may not be easy at the beginning. Through relentless practices, however, mastery is assured.
Finally, writing short stories dramatically improves your editing skills. It sharpens your ability to weed out unnecessary words or sentences that—too often—slow down your novel. Think of it.
Note: Ardain Isma is a novelist and editing manager at CSMS Magazine . He heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies. He also teaches Introduction to Research Studies at Embry Riddle University. To see his books, click here.
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