Elements of the Short Story


As a novice writer, I searched for some information regarding character development. I’d heard rumors that the best stories were character-driven, and the better you knew your main characters, the better you’ll be able to write believable dialogue and action.


If you’ve ever googled, ‘character development,’ or main characters, I’m positive you found a wealth of ‘Character Questionnaires,’ in your search.

I think I have a total of twenty-two of these questionnaires saved to my computer, but I do not use any one of them – instead, I created a list of questions for myself, by taking certain questions I found to be key from the myriad of online offerings.

So, here are the questions I use when I’m creating a new character. Please note that I have different processes for the short story versus a novel. While the characters in your short story should be three-dimensional, it isn’t essential to study them, create a backstory, or know their entire life history.

(But remember – tailor your questions to what works for YOU!!

  1. What is your character’s full name?
    1. Where did the name come from?
      1. Was it the Mom’s idea?
      1. Or the Father’s?
      1. Are they names for anyone who is deceased?
      1. For a family member
  2. Is your character pretty? Ugly? Beautiful? Will the reader be able to see this person perform the actions you write?
  3. Was your character’s childhood a good one?
  4. Male role characteristics or Female role characteristics OR neither?
  5. Unique gesture
  6. Physical attributes and words
  7. Create a Pinterest board for visualization
  8. Specific genre of music or books or movies?
  9. Is this character your protagonist or antagonist?
  10. The most important goal this character wishes to achieve.

In my opinion, for a short story, you aren’t interested in writing a lot of background. You are usually limited to a certain word count, so unless a piece of information is essential to the plot, it DOESN’T GO IN THE DRAFT.

Depending on the length of your short story, there could be several complex characters. In this case, and that of a novel, you would study characters and their interactions more fully.

We’ll explore that further in next Monday’s blog entry.

Until then,

~Mustang Patty~

Published by Mustang Patty

I am finally a full-time author, who writes legal thrillers, how-to- books, short stories, flash fiction, a tiny bit of poetry, and Blog posts. My published works include 'Guilty until Proven Innocent,' 'Innocent for the Moment,' and 'Moment by Moment.' This is a trilogy called the Jill Adair Series. Additionally, I've written a collection of short stories about my dogs, Howie and Bernie - with a 2nd Collection coming in late 2021. I'm also coordinating an Anthology of Short Stories called, '2021 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology.' This book will be available on Amazon.com on August 1st of 2021. (The 2020 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology is currently available on Amazon.com - the collection includes 30 stories, written by 18 different Authors from three continents.) I am married to my wonderful hubby of over 37 years, and I have two grown children, named Heather and Gregory. I've been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, Heather Rose and Logan Ernest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: