Gives your reader a visual understanding of the character. Show the reader what kind of person your character is, by describing actions rather than simply listing adjectives. What do I know about her? Her name is Jen, short for Jennifer Mary Johnson. She is 21 years old. She is a fair-skinned Norwegian with blue eyes, long, curly red hair, and is 5 feet 6 inches tall. Contrary to the stereotype about redheads, she is actually easygoing and rather shy.
She loves cats and has two of them named Bailey and Allie. She is a technical writing major with a minor in biology. Jen plays the piano and is an amateur photographer. She lives in the dorms at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She eats pizza every day for lunch and loves Red Rose tea. She cracks her knuckles when she is nervous.
Her mother just committed suicide. Choose a Point of View Point of view is the narration of the story from the perspective of first, second, or third person. As a writer, you need to determine who is going to tell the story and how much information is available for the narrator to reveal in the short story.
I saw a tear roll down his cheek. I had never seen my father cry before. I looked away while he brushed the offending cheek with his hand. This is a good choice for beginning writers because it is the easiest to write. But if your viewpoint character is too much like you, a first-person story might end up being a too-transparent exercise in wish-fulfillment, or score-settling. You laughed loudly at the antics of the clown. You clapped your hands with joy. See also Jerz on interactive fiction.
He ran to the big yellow loader sitting on the other side of the gravel pit shack. Yourke on point of view: Transitions are extremely important as you move from character to character. Write Meaningful Dialogue Make your readers hear the pauses between the sentences. Let them see characters lean forward, fidget with their cuticles, avert their eyes, uncross their legs.
Where are you going? But the narrative material between the direct quotes is mostly useless. Beware — a little detail goes a long way. Why would your reader bother to engage with the story, if the author carefully explains what each and every line means?
Use Setting and Context Setting moves readers most when it contributes to an organic whole. So close your eyes and picture your characters within desert, jungle, or suburb—whichever setting shaped them. Imagining this helps balance location and characterization.
Right from the start, view your characters inhabiting a distinct place. Remember to combine setting with characterization and plot. Include enough detail to let your readers picture the scene but only details that actually add something to the story. For example, do not describe Mary locking the front door, walking across the yard, opening the garage door, putting air in her bicycle tires, getting on her bicycle—none of these details matter except that she rode out of the driveway without looking down the street.
Use two or more senses in your descriptions of setting. Rather than feed your readers information about the weather, population statistics, or how far it is to the grocery store, substitute descriptive details so your reader can experience the location the way your characters do. Our sojourn in the desert was an educational contrast with its parched heat, dust storms, and cloudless blue sky filled with the blinding hot sun. The rare thunderstorm was a cause for celebration as the dry cement tunnels of the aqueducts filled rapidly with rushing water.
Palm trees hovered over our heads and saguaro cactuses saluted us with their thorny arms. Set Up the Plot Plot is what happens, the storyline, the action. Jerome Stern says it is how you set up the situation, where the turning points of the story are, and what the characters do at the end of the story.
A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. A character versus the internal self or an external something or someone. Background information required for seeing the characters in context. One or more problems that keep a character from their intended goal.
Image, symbol, dialogue, that joins paragraphs and scenes together. Remembering something that happened before the short story takes place.
When the rising action of the story reaches the peak. Releasing the action of the story after the climax. When the internal or external conflict is resolve. If you are having trouble deciding on a plot, try brainstorming.
What are actions that can result from this situation? She becomes a workaholic. Their children want to live with their dad. She moves to another city.
She gets a new job. They sell the house. She meets a psychiatrist and falls in love. He comes back and she accepts him. She moves in with her parents. The next step is to select one action from the list and brainstorm another list from that particular action. Create Conflict and Tension Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because in literature only trouble is interesting.
It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story: Tension is created by opposition between the character or characters and internal or external forces or conditions. By balancing the opposing forces of the conflict, you keep readers glued to the pages wondering how the story will end. The protagonist against another individual The protagonist against nature or technology The protagonist against society The protagonist against himself or herself. Explain just enough to tease readers.
Never give everything away. Give both sides options. Keep intensifying the number and type of obstacles the protagonist faces. Hold fictional characters more accountable than real people. Characters who make mistakes frequently pay, and, at least in fiction, commendable folks often reap rewards.
Provide sufficient complexity to prevent readers predicting events too far in advance. Encourage reader identification with characters and scenarios that pleasantly or unpleasantly resonate with their own sweet dreams or night sweats. Reveal something about human nature. Present a struggle that most readers find meaningful, even if the details of that struggle reflect a unique place and time.
Convince readers that the outcome matters because someone they care about could lose something precious. Trivial clashes often produce trivial fiction.
Build to a Crisis or Climax This is the turning point of the story—the most exciting or dramatic moment. The crisis may be a recognition, a decision, or a resolution. If the crisis occurs too early, readers will expect still another turning point. If it occurs too late, readers will get impatient—the character will seem rather thick. Find a Resolution The solution to the conflict.
In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently. Yourke examines some of the options for ending a story. Readers determine the meaning. While John watched in despair, Helen loaded up the car with her belongings and drove away. Similar to beginning situation or image. They were driving their Chevrolet Impala down the highway while the wind blew through their hair.
Her father drove up in a new Chevrolet Impala, a replacement for the one that burned up. Setting or aspect of setting resolves the plot.
The aqueducts were empty now and the sun was shining once more. Details represent a meaning beyond the literal one.