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Top 5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

Rosa Marchisella is the author of the gripping "Touch of Insanity" series and the bone-chilling novella "The Greatest of Books."

Author and GoodReads member, Christopher Taylor asked:

What advice do you give a would-be short story writer for crafting their tale?


I've been writing professionally for more than 25 years and I have a fondness for writing short stories and novellas. I love giving my readers a whole tale in a "snack sized" format. Lives are busy and sometimes you only have a few moments to relax; a lunch break, a bus ride, a potty break without people demanding your attention. So, yeah, I've got a few tips on writing shorts.

Tip #1

A short story requires all the same elements of a full-length story to be successful. This includes a clear beginning, middle, and ending with build and climax. The characters need to be properly developed so they come across as real people with real emotions and motivations.

Tip #2

"Short story" doesn’t mean "hastily told". Be sure to address all the important points:

  • Who
  • What
  • How
  • When
  • Where; and
  • Why
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Create a full reality for the reader. Weave the details into your story.

Tip #3

Yes, your short story can have chapters. Short story just means that your tale can be told in less than 10,000 words. If you need chapter breaks and scene changes to make your story flow, then use them.


Tip #4

Avoid an "Information Dump" by give the reader all the background details up front and please don't skimp on the "Show vs Tell" aspect, because you're in a hurry to get to the "good part" of the tale. If done right, the whole story can be the “good part” when you're writing shorts.

Tip #5

Lastly, edit like it was an award-wining best seller. Your short story needs just as much attention as a full-length. Give your readers a professional quality product and they’ll walk away satisfied no matter what your word count is.

If you have a writing related question, please feel free to leave it as a comment below or ask me on GoodReads.

Originally Published May 16, 2016

© 2021 Rosa Marchisella

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