This is my first guest post for NarratorNeighborhood (the page is no longer active). This is an international literary portal. Hope these tips are helpful.
In the world of literature, short stories have a unique place. They are faster to read and relate to, builds an immediate connect with the reader and packs a lot of excitement in a small package. They are frequent ups and downs, highs and lows, twists and turns, which keeps the reader glued to the plot and craving for more. Overall, short stories are like a burst of any human emotion in a small duration of time and fun to read.
The impact of a short story largely depends on the storyline and the author’s ability to keep the attention of the reader intact. Every segment of a short story, right from the title to the ending contributes towards the effectiveness and the impression a story leaves behind in the minds of a reader. The author has a big onus of making a short story as intriguing and thought-provoking as possible.
Here are 5 things that you can try out to make your short story exciting:
The Title: Believe it or not, the title of a short story is one of the most important parts because it speaks a lot. The title should not be too obvious, but suggestive. You can use metaphors or analogy or something, which helps the reader to read more, something which is eye-catching, yet summing the essence of your story. Sometimes, it can be a completed unrelated term or words, which you might have used somewhere in the story. Basically, it should make the first impression right.
The Introduction: This is the most crucial part because this is where the connect is made. If you can engage and indulge a reader right at the start, then half your job is done. The introduction should be clear enough to set the mood for the reader. However, you can work with different ways to make it captivating like starting with dialogues, a past incident, a saying or a comparison with an object or event- anything which makes the intro strong, but easier to interpret.
The Style: Next comes the main body or the plot, and you have to handle it with care. Opt for a good mix of narration and conversation. You can go or an alternate timeframe sequence or location based narration. Whatever style you choose, make sure you maintain it throughout the story and that it doesn’t become too confusing for the reader. Use a bit of filler here and there, which allows them to consume the power-packed plot. Keep the characters relatable and simple. Make sure character profiles are clear and the transitions are smooth and easy to follow. The element of surprise is of the most effective tools for successful short stories.
The Ending: The ending is equally important as the starting. It is very important for you to prepare the reader for the ending. Wrap up all threads and do not leave any unfinished ending. It is very important to relate the starting and the finishing so that the reader understands the true essence of the short story. Pick up from where you left and make sure the element of surprise reflects in your climax so that you can hold the reader until the end.
The Takeaway: Finally, don’t forget to give your reader a takeaway in the end – a thought, an emotion, a lesson, a morale, anything that they will always carry them in their hearts. Make the message clear, maybe include a one-liner in bold or italics at the end. It is like summing up your story in a single thought.
As the name itself suggests, short stories have a shorter span of engagement with the reader, so it has to be crisp, clear and correct, yet leaving a long-lasting impression. It surely depends on how tactfully the author deals with a subject and is able to garner interest and connect within a short duration. Topics can be a regular one, but the presentation, style and treatment need to be unique every time. Else, the reader might discard it as ‘yet another same story’.
If you have a flair for writing short stories, research on topics, pick up cues from your surroundings, try to gauge different human emotions, play with words, events and chronology, and of course, blend a good plot with adequate emotions and give the reader a takeaway in the end. Hope these tips will be helpful for you.
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