keyboardw-498396_1280At a recent meeting of my writers’ group, author Sandra Merville Hart led a workshop on writing short stories. I found it helpful when I was writing one for an anthology our groups it compiling.

Much of her advice came from Creative Writing: Forms and Techniques by Lavonne Mueller and Jerry D. Reynolds.

1. Beginning: Present the problem of the story. Plunge readers immediately into the first incident.

2. Middle: Create suspense. Include events both favorable and unfavorable to  your main character.

3. Ending: Solve problem raised in the beginning. It can be a positive or negative resolution.

Some other advice Sandra gave was:

4. POV: Only have one point of view in a short story.

5.  No subplots: Focus on the problem presented a the beginning and nothing else.

When I wrote my short story, remembering to stick to the problem was very helpful. I enjoy developing characters and exploring their personalities could have sidetracked me from the plot. When  I was floundering in coming up with a reasonable ending, I finally realized I didn’t know what the single problem of the story was. Once I settled on one problem and its resolution, I could fill out the middle with favorable and unfavorable incidents that led to the ending.

Sticking to the point can also be applied to blog posts. Since I have only 250 to 500 words, my post should have just one point. If I find myself wandering away from that point, I can use my tangent as the point of a separate post.

What have you learned about writing short stories? Do you recommend any books or posts with tips on how to write them?