What are you writing? How long do you think it will be?
As the year is winding down, and with NaNoWriMo looming in the foreground, many of us are starting new projects. One of the questions that come up, (well, at least for me,) is what are you writing? What kind of story? Are you attempting to write a novel, or perhaps you are completing an anthology of short stories?
Industry standards define writing by word count. I’ve listed the most common definitions I’ve found:
- The short-short story is around 1,000 to 1,500 words
- The short story is 2,000 to 5,000 words or longer
- The novella is 30,000 to 60,000 words
- The average novel is 80,000 words
Anything under 1000 words is considered flash fiction.
These are guidelines, and the length can be determined by the actual story itself.
Today’s blog deals with the short story, so let’s take a closer look at what it takes to write a great one.
Keep in mind; the short story is something that is much easier to manage than a full-length novel. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need as much work – you still have to have substantial character development, a great plot, etc.
Here are some key points:
Every story has a MAIN inciting incident – in short, the something that happens either to your main character or by your main character.
Short stories usually have:
- a single main character (the protagonist)
- a simple plot structures
- a clear beginning, middle, climax, and end
While there is typically no sub-plot, and any secondary characters are two-dimensional, the main character is well-developed. You need to make the reader CARE about what happens to this three-dimensional being.
Who the main character is at the beginning of the story should not be entirely the same person at the end. Something happens. Something changes. He or she gains insight or changes direction. The person grows or weakens because of a dramatic event.
The goal of the modern short story is to keep it fast-paced, with original striking descriptions or imagery, sparsely and cleverly applied.
Other than my daily warm-ups, I usually have some idea in mind when I start writing. I have to admit there are a few stories that developed into novels when I wasn’t paying attention – but I have a vast collection of short stories in my Dropbox files.
until next time,