Join me at author Sandra Merville’s Hart site, Historical Nibbles. Sandra’s site features history and food. If you like either, come on over! Sandra is also one of the six authors in Christmas fiction off the beaten path. Her story, “Not This Year”, was a change of pace since she usually writes historical fiction. I’ll be featuring Sandra next month in an interview. Click here to read.
At 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?
Although I am a history major, I have never felt inspired to write historical fiction. If you are interested in that kind of fiction, learning how to conduct research is critical. I know several authors who write historical fiction and their sites have many articles giving advice on research.
Cindy Thomson writes books the Ellis Island series and two books set in ancient Ireland. She is also a professional genealogist.
Sandra Merville Hart has written two books set during the battle of Gettysburg.
Tamera Lynn Kraft had set Resurrection of Hope in 1920 America, Alice’s Notion’s during World War II, and A Christmas Promise in a Moravian settlement in Ohio, 1773.
At writer’s meeting I went to, Sandra gave advice on how to kickstart your novel if it stalls in the middle. One idea was to go back to your research notes. Whether you have researched languages, locations, or legends for your writing, keeping your notes organized and available will help you find your creative spark when you need it.