Home Forums Fiction Writing Plotting Questions about writing a short story

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  LivGiordano 2 weeks, 4 days ago.

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  • #62393

    LivGiordano
    @livgiordano
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    I’ve been desiring more and more to figure out how to write short stories, but it seems so…complicated.

    So on someone’s blog, they are doing a short story contest. Here’s the link, if anyone’s interested: https://jesusisworthitall.weebly.com/for-writers/beauty-for-ashes-story-contest

    And as soon as I saw the theme, I was like…wow. Because that’s exactly what my next novel is going to be about. Then I was thinking that I possibly could do a condensed version of my MCs story, in less than 2000 words.

    But idek how that will work, because there’s almost no room to see her change, or to show a character arc. So how can a short story work, when there’s no room for a character arc?

    Also, would it kind of take away from my novel to write this short story about the exact same character? Is it better to write an entirely different story?

    I’m really not sure, and I’m trying to wrestle through all of these thoughts. If it sounded confusing (and it most likely did!) please ask questions, and I would love any help or feedback on this.

    Tagging a few people here: @aratrea @daeus @jane-maree @winter-rose @mariposa @anyone else

    Thanks in advance!

    ~Liv

     

    #62397

    Skredder
    @skredder
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    @livgiordano Maybe I can offer a wee bit of advice. In my experience in writing short stories, they are too short for a full character arc. If you try to do a full arc in such a short time you have to eliminate great parts of the story. Instead, I see short stories as just a snippet of the overall arc. To me they tend to focus more on one aspect of either the character or the story.

    Another thing about them is that there is life that happens before and after the story. Let me give an example. In the little challenges on here where you send in six word stories based on a prompt, your imagination takes those six words and expands upon them outside of the prompt itself when you read them. To me that’s what a short story does. It’s a teaser, but it is also complete in-and-of itself.

    I don’t know if that helped at all, but good luck with your story. 🙂

    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

    #62398

    Mariposa Aristeo
    @mariposa
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    @livgiordano I actually did that with a story I submitted to KP. It was originally 70,000 words long, but I condensed it to 4,000 (except it was a story long-since abandoned and one I’d given up as a book, but I thought I could at least salvage it into a decent short story).

    Anyway, back to the issue at hand. 🙂 Whether it takes away from the appeal will largely depend how much you reveal and how different it is from your WIP. It could actually get people interested in your book, because if they like the short story, they will likely enjoy the novel.

    As for developing the arc, maybe you could use a subplot or a secondary arc for the story, one that can take place in a shorter span of time. Also, try thinking about what’s absolutely necessary in the plot and focus on that instead of all the buildup. For example, in my story, the character thought her kindness had been wasted, but later she realized no act of kindness is ever wasted. In the original book, there was a lot of scenes showing how the people mistreated her along with the gradual decline of her one and only best friend. In the short story, I chose only a few poignant examples of mistreatment and instead of showing the gradual change in her friend, I showed the aftermath.

    Or you could do a similar arc with a similar theme, but not as deep. For example, a child loses their brother and they think they need him back to be happy again, but they learn that others can help them overcome loneliness. In the short story format, you could always have your MC lose their beloved dog instead and have them find joy by caring for an injured cat that wandered into his/her life.

    #62405

    Jane Maree
    @jane-maree
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
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    @livgiordano As the others have said, basically you have to change the full character arc into a tiny little three-scene structure. That condenses it down to a small space, but still has the general idea. For example:

    – Goldilocks wants eats the porridge because she doesn’t think taking someone else’s stuff is bad
    – The bears come back and chase her off
    – Goldilocks realises how terrible that was and never does it again

    (aka the most lame character arc example. XD Sorry about that. 😉 ) But hopefully from that you can see what I mean.

     

    As for whether it’d take away from your novel, that’s really up to you to decide. I submitted a short story to KP that was simply a short story-ish version of my first chapter, and it helped kickstart me into the rest of the novel. It really depends on what you think personally. 🙂

    Writing Heroes ♦ Writing Hope // janemareeauthor.com.au


    Grace H.
    @gh24682468999
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    @livgiordano I don’t think it has to take away from your novel. Writing a short story can help you develop your MC, and like everybody else has said, it can really only be a short part of your character’s growth. Maybe they can learn one crucial lesson, and if you show this incident you display in your short story as a brief part of an overall theme, it could fit well into your novel as the beginning, a crucial plot point, or anything else 🙂 And you can always alter your novel later to be different, if that’s what you wish.

    Short stories don’t have to be complicated. In fact, they’re supposed to be really simple, in the same way a photograph captures a moment in time, but it can be done beautifully.

    Hope this helps + keep going! You can do this!

    It's g-h, 2-4-6-8 twice, three 9's
    literatureforthelight.wordpress.com

    #62445

    Gabrielle
    @winter-rose
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    I think you’ve got some good advice here, so I can’t add much. Short stories are basically just a few scenes in which your character deals his beliefs on a certain subject What they end up believing about that subject (and how they act at the end of the story based on that belief) is their arc and the message/theme of the story. It’s a very simplistic version of a character arc.

    Jane’s example pretty much illustrates that XD.

     

    #62521

    LivGiordano
    @livgiordano
    • Rank: Wise Jester
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    @skredder That makes sense. It’s a snippet of the full-length arc. A teaser to the full-length story. Okay. *nods* That gives me a new perspective on this. Very helpful! Thank you.

    @mariposa I really like the idea of doing the same kind of arc on a smaller level. It gives a hint of the overall story, but it’s not as huge or a really big storyline.

    @jane-maree I love that example! It makes it seem a lot simpler and straightforward, which is what I need. Yeah, I am starting to think that it would help me kickstart the novel, but at the same time, I’m not ready to dive into it. Idk. I still have another book to finish first.

    @gh24682468999 Thank you for that!

    Short stories don’t have to be complicated. In fact, they’re supposed to be really simple, in the same way a photograph captures a moment in time, but it can be done beautifully.

    That is really powerful. And I feel like I’m *starting* to get a grasp on this.

    Thanks! @winter-rose That all of you are practically saying different versions of the same thing really helps. And I think I can sort of grasp it. It will just take time. And practice.

    You guys are the best! Thank you for so much encouragement and feedback. It’s really, really helpful.

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