Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing short stories can help your style

Learning to write a short story can really help refine your writing style.  It definitely makes you think about what is important in a story and what's not.  Names are often the first thing to go.  Listing off five or six names all at once is not only confusing in a short story but pointless.  What a reader remembers is a character type.  "Oh yeah, that was the mean guy."

Another thing short stories help with is "trimming down the fat."  Since you are limited in how many words you can use, this really helps you to focus on what's important in a scene and what's not.  Is is really all that crucial to have a long conversation about what the characters are going to do?  Or should they just go right ahead do it?  This helps to improve the pacing of your longer stories.

One last thing a short story can help improve is the mood of a scene.  Reactions to a scenario are just as important as the dialog.  Often times one look of horror exchanged between characters can be far more telling than a wordy "I'm scared," "Me too" dialog.

2 comments:

  1. Writing short stories not only helps you learn how to focus on what's important within a scene, but it helps you think about which scenes are important enough to include in the first place.

    This is something I started thinking about hard once I started trying flash fiction. When you've only got 1000 words to work with, you only have room to dramatize a handful of scenes. Which are the key moments for telling your story? Everything else, any other info you need the reader to know, that'll have to be summarized--so you better learn to choose the right ones to show at full length.

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  2. Very, very true. As I write more short stories, I even find that superfluous scenes are starting to bother me as I read "regular length" books. Description that adds to the mood is one thing. But long chunks of dialog that summarizes everything that will be happening in the next five chapters...?

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