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This is not the story readers think of when they think of Welty. It follows a group of girls at a summer camp. The campers are in two groups—the paying girls from Morgana, Mississippi and the charity campers from an orphan home. The two groups dress differently, and act differently, as the orphans cannot swim—they stand in the water while the city girls swim all around them. Adults in the story fall away, and we see the painful dynamics of young women, left to their own devices, on the brink of their sexuality.

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This leads to almost tragic results. The main character of Easter, an orphan, is a wonder. In this story, Welty delves into issues such as racism, class, and what it means to be a woman with a deft and poetic touch. This, unsurprisingly, is not enough. What I mean is that it is the kind of story that changes you. Blasim writes about the realities of war with such imaginative and staggering grace. Here the ability to disappear knives becomes a metaphor for existence in Iraq and a survival trick. How else to speak of the absurdity of war but to cut through and go beyond?

The story is so full of life it will make you weep. He slaps her repeatedly, splits her lip and makes her nose bleed, and even threatens her with his Beretta. The physicality is cold, the motivation is dangerous, and the escalation is terrifying. DeBard and Aliette. Twenty feet from the dock he dips below the water and comes up a moment later at the ladder, blowing like a whale. She feels herself flush, and, trembling, smiles.

The morning newspapers include a story, buried under the accounts of battles at the Western Front, about a mysterious illness striking down hale soldiers in Kansas.

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The date could have been indicated through overly-precise descriptions of antique automobiles or bathing costumes. Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. Lesmeister Slider. First Cosmic Velocity by Zach Powers. The Nobody People by Bob Proehl. Write your first draft to simply get the basics of the story down without worrying about grammar, cliches, redundancy or anything but the plot. Brainstorming interesting, quirky, inspiring, influential people and mix and match their looks, ages, genders, traits, voices , tics, habits, characteristics.

The resulting character will be an amalgam of those. The outlining and research has to end at some point. Interested in reading more about these strategies? Click here to read my in-depth blog post on how to come up with story ideas. It looks like this, according to bestselling Dean Koontz :. Read hundreds of them—especially the classics.

You learn this genre by familiarizing yourself with the best. See yourself as an apprentice. Watch, evaluate, analyze the experts, then try to emulate their work. A lot of the skills you need can be learned through osmosis. Where to start? Read Bret Lott , a modern-day master. He chose one of my short stories for one of his collections. Reading two or three dozen short stories should give you an idea of their structure and style.

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That should spur you to try one of your own while continuing to read dozens more. One can accommodate an epic sweep of a story and cover decades with an extensive cast of characters. Naturally, that dramatically restricts your number of characters, scenes, and even plot points. Your goal is to get to a resounding ending by portraying a poignant incident that tell a story in itself and represents a bigger picture. Yes, it might get changed by editors, but it must grab their attention first. As you might imagine, this is as crucial in a short story as it is in a novel.

So use the same basic approach:. Tell your reader just enough to make her care about your main character, then get to the the problem, the quest, the challenge, the danger—whatever it is that drives your story. Rather than recite how a Frenchman got to America, merely mention the accent he had hoped to leave behind when he emigrated to the U. Short stories are, by definition, short.

Every sentence must count. If even one word seems extraneous, it has to go. In a short story this can often be accomplished quickly, as long as it resounds with the reader and makes her nod. The rest of the story is him telling the cabbie how deeply his life choices have hurt his family.

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The story ends with the taxi pulling into view of his childhood home, only to find not only the porch light on, but also every light in the house and more out in the yard. That ending needed no elaboration. The lights say it all. All writing is rewriting. And remember, tightening nearly always adds power. Omit needless words. Jim walked in through the open door and sat down in a chair.

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The crowd clapped their hands and stomped their feet. Learn to tighten and give yourself the best chance to write short stories that captivate your reader. Writing contests are great because the winners usually get published in either a magazine or online—which means instant visibility for your name. Such publications cater to audiences who love stories written in their particular literary category.

While, admittedly, this market calls for a more intellectual than mass market approach to writing, getting published in one is still a win. An estranged son visits his lonely mother on Christmas Eve before his planned suicide, unaware she is planning the same, and the encounter gives them each reasons to go on. In the comments below, write the one-sentence essence of your short story.


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Share 2K. Pin Need help fine-tuning your writing? Click here to download my free self-editing checklist. What Is a Short Story? And short stories come varying shapes and sizes: Traditional: 1, words Flash Fiction: , words Micro Fiction: 5 to words Is there really a market for a short story of 5, words roughly 20 double-spaced manuscript pages?


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That implied a vast backstory and deep emotion. I recommend these strategies to generate story ideas: 1. Recognize the germ.

Write it down. Create characters from people you know. Get writing.


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It looks like this, according to bestselling Dean Koontz : Plunge your main character into terrible trouble as soon as possible. That trouble will mean something different depending on your genre. For a thriller it might be life-threatening.